Decision Vision Episode 149: Should I Become More Extroverted? – An Interview with Ray Abram, TechCXO and author of Connect Like a Boss
If connections and the quality of one’s network are a vital aspect of success in business, then how do introverts succeed? Should they become more extroverted? Joining host Mike Blake, Ray Abram of TechCXO and author of Connect Like a Boss discussed misconceptions about introverts, what it means to be an introvert in business, the impact of a digitally transformed world, managing introverts, and much more. Decision Vision is presented by Brady Ware & Company.
Ray Abram, CISSP, PMP, CSM, Senior Consultant at TechCXO
TechCXO provides companies with on-demand executives. TechCXO was founded on the premise that high potential companies can greatly benefit from proven, interim executives who they otherwise may not be able to access due to cost, availability, or because they do not necessarily need them full time. Our purpose is to provide the best executive talent available… on demand.
Ray Abrams knows what it’s like to overcome introversion and lack of confidence. As a self-proclaimed super-shy kid, he has risen out of mediocrity to find the success he previously only dreamed about.
For decades, Ray, a graduate of Hampton University in Virginia moved from job to job never finding the level of success he sought. Until one day he read an article on LinkedIn that said over 80% of jobs and opportunities come through people that we know. Eureka! Ray then began amassing a wealth of knowledge on how to build what he calls a “Circle of Success”.
He has since used that knowledge to not only change his life, but put countless others on the path to realizing their dreams through the people that they are connected with.
In his first book, Connect Like a Boss, Ray shares his fascinating experience on the strategies he used to become the best version of himself and fill his contact list with the people who could help him get what he wanted out of life. He is uniquely qualified in the fundamentals of identifying goals, working a room, and building long-term connections with intention. His mastery of these fundamentals can help your group triumph in this time-crunched, disconnected world.
Ray Abram’s message about the Seven Steps to Building Lasting Business Relationships, based on the science of building intentional friendships, resonates with diverse audiences at every level. He helps executives and entrepreneurs learn the art of prioritizing, categorizing, aligning, and pinging their contacts to maximize the value of their personal relationships in an efficient. effective way. Ray has delivered his networking and relationship strategy experience to such companies as Viacom, AT&T, Coca-Cola, and Cox Media, to name a few.
Mike Blake, Brady Ware & Company
Michael Blake is the host of the Decision Vision podcast series and a Director of Brady Ware & Company. Mike specializes in the valuation of intellectual property-driven firms, such as software firms, aerospace firms, and professional services firms, most frequently in the capacity as a transaction advisor, helping clients obtain great outcomes from complex transaction opportunities. He is also a specialist in the appraisal of intellectual properties as stand-alone assets, such as software, trade secrets, and patents.
Mike has been a full-time business appraiser for 13 years with public accounting firms, boutique business appraisal firms, and an owner of his own firm. Prior to that, he spent 8 years in venture capital and investment banking, including transactions in the U.S., Israel, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
Brady Ware & Company
Brady Ware & Company is a regional full-service accounting and advisory firm which helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality. Brady Ware services clients nationally from its offices in Alpharetta, GA; Columbus and Dayton, OH; and Richmond, IN. The firm is growth-minded, committed to the regions in which they operate, and most importantly, they make significant investments in their people and service offerings to meet the changing financial needs of those they are privileged to serve. The firm is dedicated to providing results that make a difference for its clients.
Decision Vision Podcast Series
Decision Vision is a podcast covering topics and issues facing small business owners and connecting them with solutions from leading experts. This series is presented by Brady Ware & Company. If you are a decision-maker for a small business, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to listen to every Thursday to the Decision Vision podcast.
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Intro: [00:00:02] Welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast series focusing on critical business decisions. Brought to you by Brady Ware & Company. Brady Ware is a regional full-service accounting and advisory firm that helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality.
Mike Blake: [00:00:21] Welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast giving you, the listener, clear vision to make great decisions. In each episode, we discuss the process of decision making on a different topic from the business owners’ or executives’ perspective. We aren’t necessarily telling you what to do, but we can put you in a position to make an informed decision on your own and understand when you might need help along the way.
Mike Blake: [00:00:44] My name is Mike Blake, and I’m your host for today’s program. I’m a director at Brady Ware & Company, a full-service accounting firm based in Dayton, Ohio, with offices in Dayton; Columbus, Ohio; Richmond, Indiana; and Alpharetta, Georgia. My practice specializes in providing fact-based strategic and risk management advice to clients that are buying, selling, or growing the value of companies and intellectual property.
Mike Blake: [00:01:08] And by the way, as an aside, now that the new college football rankings have come out, it looks like at some point the University of Georgia and University of Cincinnati will be playing in football. So, that’s going to be an interesting clash between our two offices.
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Mike Blake: [00:01:55] Today’s topic is, Should I become more extroverted? The reputation of introverts is that they or we are aloof, or awkward, or loners, nerdy, unfriendly, shy, strange, withdrawn, probably other things. And an academic study found that extroverts are 25 percent more likely to be in a high earning job than those who are less outgoing. According to elegantthemes.com, high profile introverts include Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffett.
Mike Blake: [00:02:29] And it’s estimated that introverts make up between 25 to 40 percent of the population. I wonder if that’s even understating the number of introverts, because I’ll bet you a lot of introverts don’t respond to the surveys. They probably don’t answer the phone. But anyway, I guess that’s the sort of selection of survivorship bias there.
Mike Blake: [00:02:50] And I’m interested in this topic because I’m an introvert. I’m not the big outgoing guy, for sure. And I work in a pretty introverted industry in accounting. And the joke is, you can tell if an accountant is extroverted because they’re looking at your shoes when they talk to you.
Mike Blake: [00:03:13] And I can tell you for sure that my wife’s biggest fear with me is not that I’ll cheat on her or anything like that. First of all, I don’t have the time management skills. She knows that for sure. There’s no way I could lead a second life. But her biggest fear is that I’ll be selected for the Mars mission because being put into a spaceship by myself for two years and there’s no real time communication, there’s 20 minutes in between transmissions, I’m like, “In, baby. Sign me up.” Except they don’t need an old fat guys to the Mars mission, so it’s unfortunate. I’m not likely to be a candidate for that.
Mike Blake: [00:03:48] So, this should be an interesting conversation. Joining us today to help us with this is Ray Abram of TechCXO. Ray knows what it’s like to overcome introversion and lack of confidence. As a self-proclaimed super shy kid, he has risen out of mediocrity to find the success he previously only dreamed about. For decades, Ray, a graduate of Hampton University in Virginia, moved from job to job, never finding the level of success he sought. Until one day, he read an article on LinkedIn that said over 80 percent of jobs and opportunities came through people that we know.
Mike Blake: [00:04:23] Eureka. Ray then began amassing a wealth of knowledge on how to build – what he calls – a circle of success. He has since used that knowledge to, not only change his life, but put countless others on the path to realizing their dreams through the people that they are connected with. In his first book, Connect Like a Boss, Ray shares his fascinating experience and the strategies he used to become the best version of himself and fill his contact list with the people who could help him get what he wanted out of life.
Mike Blake: [00:04:52] He is uniquely qualified in the fundamentals of identifying goals, working a room, and building long term connections with intention. His mastery of these fundamentals can help your group triumph in this time crunched disconnected world. Ray’s message about the seven steps to building lasting business relationships based on the science of building intentional friendships resonates with diverse audiences at every level. He helps executives and entrepreneurs learn the art of prioritizing, categorizing, aligning, and pinging their contexts to maximize the value of their personal relationships in an efficient, effective way.
Mike Blake: [00:05:29] Ray has delivered his networking and relationship strategy experience to such companies as Viacom, AT&T, Coca-Cola and Cox Media, to name a few. Ray, welcome to the program.
Ray Abram: [00:05:40] Thank you. Thank you very much, Michael.
Mike Blake: [00:05:43] So, I mean, doesn’t this sort of set up for some kind of bar joke? Two introverts are going to talk to each other over a podcast? I wonder if our listeners are thinking that there’s just going to be 30 minutes of dead air or the occasional cough. So, we have some work to do. But I think a lot of people misunderstand introverts. And so, I’m going to actually start with that.
Mike Blake: [00:06:10] You know, I am an introvert. My passions tend to be introverted. You’re not going to see me posting pictures on social media with me at a party of, like, 20 people. Never going to happen. Not intentionally, anyway. How are introverts like us most misunderstood?
Ray Abram: [00:06:29] Well, I think the biggest thing that people misunderstand about introverts is – you actually summed it up. I wish I could have had some of that preview because I think you summed it up – people think introverts are nerdy and arrogant. I think that’s really kind of the biggest misunderstanding. I’ve had that all my life as an introvert, is, people assume because I’m kind of standoffish or I’m standing to myself that I don’t want to be involved with them, that I think I’m better than them. And that’s a huge misunderstanding that limits introverts.
Mike Blake: [00:07:10] So, what was that moment that said, “You know what? I’m too much of an introvert.” Or maybe that’s not a fair question, we’re going to come back to that. But you decided that that was being a barrier to your own success.
Ray Abram: [00:07:26] Yeah. It was that last layoff. Part of being in technology and consulting, particularly, or contracting, every year or so, the company says, “Okay. It’s October, it’s fourth quarter, we got to let some people go.” And I always seem to be on the let go side. And we know we have to keep some people and let some people go. And then, it would always take me, you know, months to find something new.
Ray Abram: [00:07:55] And it occurred to me that in all these times it happened, I could always blame somebody else. But it occurred to me that I was the common denominator. And so, once that it happened that one last time I said, “I do not want this to happen again and so I need to fix my ability to connect with people.”
Mike Blake: [00:08:18] Now, I wish I had that excuse. The last time I got fired from a job was about 25 years ago. I was fired because I flat out sucked at it. It didn’t matter if I was an introvert or extrovert, I sucked at it and I was glad when they fired me. It was a bad match from day one. We could go off on a tangent, but I won’t.
Mike Blake: [00:08:39] So, when you were fired from that job, why do you think it was because you’re an introvert that led to that? What was it about being an introvert that puts you in the firing line do you think?
Ray Abram: [00:08:49] It’s just the connection. I think people hire and keep people that they like. It’s unfortunate. I mean, it would be great if the world was fair. But people look out for their friends. And I wasn’t good at making friends. I wasn’t seen as a guy that, “But we can’t let Ray go. Everybody loves Ray.” While I’m a very nice guy and very personable, I do my job, I wasn’t good at building that connection that would make a manager as they’re going through the list, “I got to let 20 people go. I can’t let Ray go.” So, I wasn’t good at that.
Mike Blake: [00:09:30] I wonder if there’s a demographic that people who are introverts are more likely to listen to podcasts? I’ll bet you they are. But let’s say for a second that somebody listening to this podcast and they’re trying to self-diagnose, am I an introvert? And more importantly, am I an introvert to the degree that it’s starting to get in the way of my success? What are some signs that I can make as a self-diagnosis to start taking stock and say, “Hey, this is something that maybe I need to take a look at changing or adapting my environment to?”
Ray Abram: [00:10:10] It really comes down to happiness. There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert if you’re happy. I think you mentioned, if they put you on a space capsule for two years, you never have to talk to anybody, you’d be ecstatic. However, if you’re suffering because you’re not getting invited, I think the thing, too, with introverts is that we crave to be invited. We just don’t want to go. So, as a human being, you crave connection.
Ray Abram: [00:10:42] And so, that kind of feeling like you’re not fitting in, feeling like you’re in bad relationships because you feel like nobody else will even be bothered with you. And so, you become unhappy and it feeds on itself. And then, that unhappiness kind of you get the schleprock effect, then you start to push people away. So, you don’t get what you want in life because you aren’t good at connecting with people. And that leads to unhappiness, if that makes sense.
Mike Blake: [00:11:20] And you bring up kind of you want to be invited, but you don’t want to go. There’s a certain level of empowerment that comes with that, too, isn’t there? I mean, you’d rather be in the position of saying, “I appreciate it, but I’m going to sort of hang back.” As opposed to not being invited at all. You wind up in exactly the same space, but the path by which you get there makes the difference, doesn’t it?
Ray Abram: [00:11:46] It absolutely does. Because when you look at social media, that made it even worse. It was already that FOMO was a thing back when we were kids. However, now, it’s really in your face and you look and you see your “friends” are out having a good time and enjoying themselves and nobody thought to call you. Or it was the event of the year and you didn’t even know about it. And that can lead to FOMO, for lack of a better word. But you still may not go even if you knew. But that feeling of not being invited is hurtful.
Mike Blake: [00:12:24] And it’s not just FOMO, it’s actually just MO, right? You’re missing out. It’s not just fear of missing out, you’re actually missing out because you’re not plugged into the network that makes you aware of those things. And there’s only a certain amount by which people will go that far out of their way to make sure that you’re plugged in. You got to kind of meet people part of the way, if not halfway, maybe at least a quarter of the way.
Mike Blake: [00:12:52] So, your personal experience was about losing jobs, but now you’re sort of more on the top of the org chart, if you will. So, you’re not going to lose jobs anymore because of your introversion. From where you sit now, where does the introversion/extroversion divide kind of play into how you conduct yourself and how you gain success in your professional life?
Ray Abram: [00:13:18] Wow. This question comes up a lot, how do I become more extroverted? And so, that’s the one thing I do want to clear up is that, it’s not about becoming extroverted. It’s about understanding your natural tendencies. Like, I’m lefthanded. When I was little, everybody wanted me to write righthanded. There’s just certain things we have natural tendencies to, but you adapt and you say – for me, it’s about understanding – “I don’t like large crowds. I don’t like speaking up when I’m in a group of 20 or 30 people. But I do very well with one-on-one.” So, it’s about staying in touch with people one-on-one or two-on-one, you know, having lunches, calling, coffees.
Ray Abram: [00:14:08] So, I just had to do different things that helped me leverage my introversion. But I just have to do it differently. I can’t get 20 people together because then I feel uncomfortable.
Mike Blake: [00:14:20] So, you bring up a point I want to make sure that I hit today, and this is as good a time as any because it’s a nice segue. I don’t think that you’re saying like introverts need help per se. This term is used elsewhere in life, but you’re born that way. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change fundamentally who you are. But I think what you’re saying is that you need to recognize that about yourself. And then, kind of like a coach, put yourself in a position to be successful.
Ray Abram: [00:14:50] Yes. That’s absolutely right. So, you have to train differently. Use a sports analogy, you just have to exercise differently to work on the parts that you need to work on. And so, being an introvert, I know that I don’t like a lot of crowds, but I do very well in small groups and have good conversations.
Ray Abram: [00:15:16] And, also, there’s another thing I want to make sure we touch on, too, is that there’s a difference between introversion and shyness. And those two terms get conflated quite a bit. Introversion is about you live in your head, you have conversations with yourself. Shyness is more a fear. It’s more about fear and shame. I’m afraid of what’s going to happen if people find this secret out about me. Or you have this feeling, “I’m going to trip over my feet or my trip over my words.” And so, the shyness is something that you can fix. But introversion is something that you cannot and it doesn’t need to be fixed.
Mike Blake: [00:15:59] Talk to me about how digital transformation has changed the world of the introvert. My personal experience is, I think it’s been great. We’re now in a situation where I can politely turn down a hug because I can plausibly say that it may lead to a lethal disease being transmitted. But I think it might be a two edged sword, talk about how digital transformation may be helping, but also maybe hurting introverts.
Ray Abram: [00:16:36] Yeah. To your point, it’s a crutch. It’s a crutch. And as you know with crutches, they help you walk. However, they don’t do anything for strengthening your legs. You have to have the PT. You have to have that physical training to strengthen that muscle. If you use this digital world, it’s easy. However, it doesn’t help you because it’s a physical world and you do have to be around people at some point.
Ray Abram: [00:17:14] And hiding behind a screen, just to me, doesn’t lead to a fulfilled life. There’s pieces that are missing. The senses that we have that are greater than our eyes and our ears, I mean, when you are with someone, you actually experience them physically, electrically. And that electrical charge, you need that. And so, if you’re just in here behind the screen all the time, it doesn’t help you live a fulfilled life. If that makes sense.
Mike Blake: [00:17:51] You know, I’m curious how you’d react to this. I think that the most important concept that is coming out of coronavirus and the digitally transformed world that it’s created is intentionality. You can’t manage by walking around anymore. You can’t bump into the water – I think the water cooler is a little overrated. I’m kind of like, “What are you standing around the water cooler for? Get back to work.”
Mike Blake: [00:18:24] But in the same token, to manage our teams to develop relationships, when people say you can’t develop relationships digitally, I think that goes too far. But where I do agree is that it needs to be more intentional. There needs to be more process to it because the default setting now is everybody’s a hermit. And so, now, you have to make a special effort to kind of come out of your cave, come out of your shell a little bit. And I think that’s maybe the other edge of the sword that’s working against introverts.
Mike Blake: [00:19:01] It was bad enough when I had to make the effort to wade into the lunchroom and sit down with ten other people. Or it was bad enough when I had to go to networking meetings of 58 people. But, now, I’ve got to go out of my way to set up Zooms and to call people. And go out of my way to make that contact. And people aren’t going to come to me. Out of sight, out of mind, I do think is a very real thing. I do think that’s the price that introverts are paying and we really have to be mindful of because, otherwise, we can truly fall off the face of the Earth as far as people are concerned.
Ray Abram: [00:19:37] You’re absolutely right. And, no, if you don’t call people to just say hello, very few people will call you. When you think about it, every call you get is somebody wanting something or it’s business. Very few people in today’s world just call each other just to say hello. And so, you as an introvert, have to do that intentionally. Schedule it and say, “I need to call three people.” What I recommend to my clients is call three people every day just to say hello. It keeps you in the loop.
Ray Abram: [00:20:15] I want to make a point about the digital transformation – and I think this is going to be helpful for introverts – kind of where our worlds are going to merge is this concept of the metaverse. It’s this always on goggles, avatars, people walking around in digital real estate. I don’t know how that’s going to look. I know it’ll be weird, but it will be that place where you just put your goggles on and you can physically or mentally walk into a room full of people and have discussions.
Mike Blake: [00:20:51] You talked about doing three phone calls a day, I want to follow up on that. What are other tools have you incorporated in your own life to, maybe, minimize the negative effects of introversion?
Ray Abram: [00:21:07] Yeah. So, one of the challenges or one of the things that kind of makes you introverted is, you believe things that aren’t true. You know, sometimes we suffer from mind reading, like, already thinking about what the person is going to think. So, the one question I ask myself – this helped me a lot – was, why do I believe that to be true? And so, instead of seeing the worst thing possible scenario, by asking why do I believe it’s true, when I ask myself that, the answer comes back usually it’s probably not true. And so, it frees me. That’s been a big help for me.
Mike Blake: [00:21:49] We tend to idolize extroverts for some reason. Why do you think that is?
Ray Abram: [00:21:59] It’s interesting, we actually had a shift and society did that to us. I was reading this a book called Quiet by Susan Cain, and she talks about a study that was done – well, not even a study, but just historically, introverts used to be revered.
Mike Blake: [00:22:19] Scholars.
Ray Abram: [00:22:19] Right. It was the Andy Griffiths of the world, the Abraham Lincolns, who were introverted thinkers. That was the ideal man who’s quiet and strong. But when people started moving into the cities, they called it the cult of personality, where having a outgoing personality became important. And so, schools were encouraged to teach kids, if you didn’t play with others well or you didn’t like to play with others, your parents were called into the office. You know, “There’s a problem with Ray. He doesn’t like to stand in front of the class and write on the board.” So, society has kind of put it on us to be the extroverted ideal, but it’s not anything that is natural.
Mike Blake: [00:23:15] You know, that’s interesting. I’m going to put that on my reading list. Actually, I’ve got new Kindle credits I got to spend. I’m curious, did they mention whether or not the advent of television has anything to do with that as well? I’ll bet you that it does.
Ray Abram: [00:23:32] Oh, I’m sure it does. Television has a lot to do with everything. There’s a YouTube video, I think it’s the history of America or the American era, and they kind of talk about how Sigmund Freud’s nephew kind of helped create society with advertising campaigns, and got women to smoke, and created eating bacon and eggs for breakfast. It’s amazing. And they used television to push a lot of this stuff to us. And so, society is largely influenced by television.
Mike Blake: [00:24:13] You know, I think back to the 1960 election, that was the first one that have televised debates. And neither you or I are old enough to remember that, but we know the story behind it. And John Kennedy prevailed in that election when Nixon was clearly the more qualified person to be president, right? And I would even argue if John Kennedy had Dwight Eisenhower’s personality – I think Eisenhower is kind of an introvert – I’m not sure Kennedy wins that election, necessarily. And I think that’s an illustration of how TV kind of elevated the sense of this extroverted, effervescent kind of charisma that we seem to gravitate to because I think it just makes it more ubiquitous and more visible, I guess.
Ray Abram: [00:25:01] Yeah. Yeah. Those people are seen as winners. They’re people who are extroverted. Again, it’s the cult of personality that people who have outgoing personality. This is the thing, I think before the cult of personality, a quiet man was seen as very trustworthy and somebody that you want to work with and do business with. But after the cult of personality, the quiet man is seen as something suspicious. Why is he so quiet? What’s he hiding? And so, it’s just a mind shift against quiet people.
Mike Blake: [00:25:37] And that brings up a question I want to talk to you about, because I want to talk sales a little bit. And we think of the stereotypical salesperson as a slap on the back, shake your hand, bro hug kind of person, whatever the younger salespeople do. I don’t know. I’m a million years old now. But that’s sort of the quintessential salesperson, right? And I know when I grew up, when I had my first job in finance, I was the number cruncher. They’re never putting me in front of, like, real people that might have paid us money or not. Just crunch the numbers, we’re good.
Mike Blake: [00:26:25] But I kind of wonder now if the pendulum is kind of swinging back towards introverts, because we’re just so bombarded now with being sold to all the damn time. And now YouTube influencers have become a thing, and YouTube influencers are, basically – let’s face it – they’re selling 24/7. They’re selling themselves, but they’re selling.
Mike Blake: [00:26:49] And I wonder if the pendulum is sort of swinging back to the introvert that’s just saying, “You know, here’s what I got. Love to tell you more about it. But that’s it. I’m not going to chase you down. I’m not going to hunt you down. Maybe I’ll do one follow up phone call. I’m not going to try to take you on a three day Bahama vacation or anything.” Do you agree, is the pendulum kind of swinging back our way in terms of preferred sales style?
Ray Abram: [00:27:17] Yeah. It’s swinging back to authenticity. So, I don’t know if it’s an introvert/extrovert thing, but it’s about authenticity and trust, and being trustworthy. And so, people are, to your point, inundated. And everybody’s lying and extra in marketing. And marketing have gotten so good at selling you stuff that when you see someone who is just authentic, and to your point, not trying to overdo it or overstate what they’re selling, then it’s moving more toward authenticity, as opposed to whether it’s introverted or extroverted.
Mike Blake: [00:27:59] You know, that’s a great point. I’m glad you corrected me on that because – and this shows my own bias – as an introvert, I will admit that I have an inherent distrust and bias against people who are extroverted. It doesn’t mean I don’t get along with them – and I want to get back to that in a second. It doesn’t mean that I discriminate against them, or maybe I do. But people who are extroverted, to me, seem a little not normal, because they operate in a mental space that I cannot conceive living in.
Mike Blake: [00:28:42] And so, I do think that now that we have this discussion, we’re uncovering, I guess, a deep and ugly part of myself. One of many we discover on the Decision Vision podcast. But I wonder if other introverts sort of maybe distrust extroverts? Maybe it’s jealousy. Maybe we see extroverts that get all the good stuff.
Ray Abram: [00:29:02] That’s part of it.
Mike Blake: [00:29:03] Maybe that’s part of it, too.
Ray Abram: [00:29:05] That is part of it. There is a jealousy. It goes back to I want to be invited. I want to be included. I want to be accepted. All human beings want love. We crave love. I think introverts are afraid of too much love. It’s just like hunger. You need to be accepted, and extroverts appear to be accepted wherever they go as soon as they walk in the room. And introverts stand back and go, “Oh, I wish everybody wanted my -” you know what I mean? It’s just an interesting dynamic with introversion.
Mike Blake: [00:29:48] So, we touched on this before, but I want to come back to it explicitly because I think it’s very important. And that’s how social media impacts introverts and impacts kind of the dynamic, if you will, between introversion and extroversion. Do you have an opinion as to whether or not social media is more helpful or more harmful to introverts and extroverts? Isn’t it a mixed bag? Is it even a fair question to ask?
Ray Abram: [00:30:15] Yes. It’s a good question. I think it’s a fair question. I don’t know if it’s more harmful to one personality type than the other. I do think it comes down to what you’re using it for. There’s risk of addiction. And I think we’ve mentioned it before, just kind of instead of going out and experiencing life, I will just look at my screen and let life happen around me. And so, you kind of miss out on having a full life just by watching as opposed to ever participating.
Mike Blake: [00:31:02] I think in my view – and, again, feel free to disagree. I’m probably wrong – one of the things that makes introverts introverts is that we’re inside our heads. And we’re really good at creating narratives inside our heads. It goes back to what you said, “Wait a second. What evidence do I have that any of this that I’m inventing for myself is true?” But social media, I do think, is sort of a conveyor belt that’s just constantly feeding stuff that feeds our internal narrative that may not necessarily be positive or helpful.
Ray Abram: [00:31:40] You’re right. And, also, I think introverts tend to observe social media. One of the challenges I’ve had, even as I try to promote my business, is doing videos, the lives and the reels, and I put that camera on. If you only knew how many times I’ve held my phone up ready to do my live and I just can’t do it. I can’t. I don’t know what to say. And so, I just turn it off. But the whole conversation is here, I just can’t get it out.
Ray Abram: [00:32:13] Well, extroverts, I think, are the opposite, always they’re live. You see it on your phone all the time. Such and such is live, such and such is live. And I’m like, I can’t do that. So, I don’t know if it’s harmful to answer your question, but I think there is a different way in the way introverts and extroverts experience social media.
Mike Blake: [00:32:33] Yeah. I’m right there with you. I have broken so many promises to do video. I really could run for office. I’d be a great politician. Because I know it’d be great for my business, but I can’t bring myself to do it. The few times I’ve done it, I sound like I’m in a hostage tape. I swear to God. And, you know, it’s going to do more harm than good.
Mike Blake: [00:32:59] On the other hand, my wife, she looks to me like, “Why can’t you just do this?” And like, “Well, why can’t you just fly a 747?” That’s what a pilot would say. But she can sit down behind her computer, turn the camera on, and just start talking. And I’m working off some questions here, but you and I are having a recorded conversation by microphone, I can do that. But, man, there’s just something about video and talking into the camera that is just so different. Maybe it’s the absence of feedback or something. But even if I have a script, again, hostage tape kind of thing. I blink three times if you want to be freed, sort of thing.
Ray Abram: [00:33:37] It is because we’re inside of our head. You’re already having a whole conversation inside of your head. And, also, there’s this fear of saying the wrong thing or saying something stupid. That’s what happens to me. I know that as soon as I start talking, I’m going to say something stupid or something not right. And introverts do have kind of more of a need to be right. We’d rather be right. We don’t like to trial and error. We sit back and think about things for a while and then do it. And you probably experienced this, if somebody says something rude to you and you get the perfect response, like, ten minutes later or after you get in the car.
Mike Blake: [00:34:21] It’s like that Seinfeld episode.
Ray Abram: [00:34:24] Exactly. You get in the car and you go, “Mama,” you know. So, that’s part of just our personality.
Mike Blake: [00:34:36] So, now, you’re in a position of business leadership. You must have given some thought to this. You know, if you’re leading a team, running a shop or company that’s got a bunch of introverts in it, what can you do to give introverts a platform to unlock their full potential? How can a company, how can a leader, meet them halfway or more than halfway so they get a chance to fully contribute?
Ray Abram: [00:35:04] Yeah. I think that’s really just making people feel accepted. But it is tricky. It’s tricky because introverts do like to be on their own. So, you have to – how can I say it? – encourage. You have to encourage participation without insisting on it. It is kind of a fine line because, as introverts, even on a conference call, even on a Zoom call, I hate when I’m called out. “Ray, what do you think about that?”
Mike Blake: [00:35:41] Right. If I knew what to say, I already would have told you.
Ray Abram: [00:35:43] I would have told you.
Mike Blake: [00:35:44] I wasn’t holding back.
Ray Abram: [00:35:47] Right. I don’t have anything to say. So, it comes down to just making sure that people feel that they’re safe. Because that’s really what limits you, is you don’t feel safe to talk in this open forum. Because, again, to your point, you’re already imagining somebody is going to start laughing or they’re going to say, “What a jerk?” And why is that true? So, you have to make sure people feel safe, and included, and encouraged to participate.
Mike Blake: [00:36:19] I’m talking with Ray Abram. And the topic is, Should I become more extroverted? We’re running out of time. I know you got another place to be. But I want to come back to what you just said because I think, again, it really just gets back to intentionality. I think one of the things I’m learning from this conversation, is, extroverts benefit and like bumping into each other. Things happen because they bump into each other.
Mike Blake: [00:36:47] Introverts still have contributions to make. But introverts have to be much more intentional about making them and probably their peers who are less introverted need to be a bit more intentional about drawing it out of them or giving them the platform, or, as you call it, the safe space in order to do so.
Ray Abram: [00:37:08] Yes. That’s absolutely right. And it’s not easy. Introverts and extroverts in a team together, they need to work together, but it is challenging just because of the way people communicate. But as a manager, understanding the types of, “If I could, I would give everybody a psychological test,” so you know where people are. Because many people that you think are introverted are not and vice versa. And so, you kind of got to understand this personality type in order to manage it effectively.
Mike Blake: [00:37:45] Does it surprise you at all when people put out the names of introverts who are big time leaders, the Bill Gates of the world, the Warren Buffetts of the world? I don’t know where they get Elon Musk. Calling Elon Musk an introvert is a little bit of a stretch to me. But I don’t know him, so maybe he’s totally different. But the guy smoking a joint on a video, to me, is not an introvert.
Ray Abram: [00:38:07] He’s not shy. He’s not shy.
Mike Blake: [00:38:09] He’s not shy, and maybe that’s it. So, does it surprise you at all that the founder of Microsoft, the founder of Berkshire Hathaway is, in fact, an introvert?
Ray Abram: [00:38:22] Not at all. Because you spend quiet time thinking, you know, thinking before you act, thinking before you speak. So, just the fact that these guys are successful, and particularly when you think about what they’re doing in technology and managing money, Warren Buffett talks about he reads four hours a day or something. I think Bill Gates takes a week away, locks himself in a room with books and notebooks. So, they’ve learned how to make it work for them.
Ray Abram: [00:38:58] And so, I think if we take anything away from this interview is, understand your personality type and figure out how to make it work for you. Not try to become another type of personality because that’s very difficult, if not impossible.
Mike Blake: [00:39:16] Yeah. That, to me, sounds like a recipe for disaster.
Ray Abram: [00:39:19] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because you’ll be uncomfortable. You’ll be miserable. And you’ll put yourself into a box. It’s like trying to write righthanded or change the hand to write with. It’s just very difficult and you’re going to feel uncomfortable. The key to introversion or overcoming it – if that’s the right word – is being comfortable in your own skin. And so, when you understand this is my personality, it’s not anything wrong with me. This is not limiting. I’m not sick. It’s just this is the type of personality I have. I can still be very successful, I think, is the empowering lesson.
Mike Blake: [00:40:05] Ray, this has been a great conversation, but we’re running out of time. If there are questions that I either didn’t ask and our audience wish I had or wish that we would have talked more or gone into more depth about a particular question, can they emerge from their introversion and reach out to you for more information? And if so, what’s the best way to do that?
Ray Abram: [00:40:27] Yeah. So, you can follow me on Instagram at ray_abram. You know, feel free to DM me. On Facebook, I’m Coach Ray Abram. And my website is rayabram.com. You know, there’s a contact form, we can set up a call if you want to just jump on a quick call, and I’ll help you out.
Mike Blake: [00:40:49] Well, that’s going to wrap it up for today’s program. And I’d like to thank Ray Abrams so much for sharing his expertise with us.
Mike Blake: [00:40:55] We’ll be exploring a new topic each week, so please tune in so that when you’re faced with your next business decision, you have clear vision when making it. If you enjoy these podcasts, please consider leaving a review with your favorite podcast aggregator. It helps people find us so that we can help them. If you would like to engage with me on social media with my Chart of the Day and other content, I’m on LinkedIn as myself and @unblakeable on Facebook, Twitter, Clubhouse, and Instagram. Also, check out my new LinkedIn Group called A Group That Doesn’t Suck. Once again, this is Mike Blake. Our sponsor is Brady Ware & Company. And this has been the Decision Vision podcast.