07 Aug The Introverted Founder
By Janine Davis, WFN Board Member and Partner, Evolution
Being a founder is undeniably challenging. Being an introverted founder exponentially increases the challenges you’ll face. A large part of being a founder is hustling. You gotta hustle for investors, you gotta hustle for customers, you gotta hustle to attract the best talent. Hustle usually involves being out in the world. Meeting, networking, connecting, presenting, pitching. For non-Introverts, those things can be energizing and exhilarating. For Introverts, they can suck the life out of you. To add insult to injury, Introverts tend to be empathic and highly intuitive — we are very sensitive to other people’s energy and emotions, and we have information coming at us (visible and invisible) from all angles. Those qualities, though they can also be gifts, can further drain an Introvert.
First off, how do you know if you’re an Introvert? Here are some clues:
- Your energy is sapped when you’re out in the world, especially if you’re surrounded by a lot of people. On the flip side of that coin, you replenish your energy when you’re alone.
- You get sensory overload. Loud sounds, bright lights, too much activity can overwhelm you.
- You prefer hanging out with pets when you go to a party. If there are no pets, you’ll look for some kids to play with. Next up, why not offer the hired help your assistance in the kitchen? Or try a solid conversation with an inanimate object. When all else fails, you’ll resort to speaking to the adults.
- You’re introspective and have been looking for a local chapter of an Overthinkers Anonymous group. 🙂
- Superficial anything and you don’t mix.
- You get very excited when someone cancels a meeting or plans.
- You have zero interest in being famous or on stage.
- You screen your calls. All of them. Even from people you like and love.
- You’re a great listener and people tend to seek you out for comfort and advice.
- You’re independent, a creative thinker, sensitive, insanely loyal and deeply caring of others (even if you hide it).
- People can wrongly judge you as being snobby or shy.
If that’s ringing some bells, here are some tips to help you thrive as a Founder:
- If you are out in networking mode, bring a wing (wo)man. Having someone you can lean on to do some of the small-talk-heavy-lifting for you can help.
- Even if you walk into a room full of hundreds of people you don’t know, just make one good connection. That’s all you need to make it a successful networking outing.
- Introverts tend to do better speaking on panels versus giving presentations.
- If you’re about to do a pitch, do some digging on the backgrounds of the people you’re pitching to. If you can spend a couple of minutes connecting with them about something real and personal before you start, it will make the actual pitch a lot easier for you.
- Balance your team with a strong Extrovert, especially in the areas of growth and sales.
- Be near water. Ocean, Stream, River, Creek. Any kind of water tends to center and revive Introverts. If you’re lucky enough to live on the coast, even driving by the ocean on the way to work can do the trick. If you are nowhere near any body of water, buy a desk fountain.
- Meditate. Just do it.
- You need time alone. It can be 5 minutes a day if that’s all you can spare. But fit it into your day. Put your phone on DND. The world will keep spinning. Promise.
According to Psychology Today, Introverts represent the minority, coming in at about 25% of humans. So, you’re not alone, but some things you have to do as a founder might be more challenging to you than to others. Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you navigate the world with a bit more ease, and excel as a founder.
This article was previously published on Medium in March 2018 by Women Founders Network “WFN” Board Member Janine Davis. Janine oversees in-kind sponsorships for WFN. She is a Partner with Evolution, which provides top shelf culture and leadership coaching for startups and high growth companies, with clients including Slack, Change.Org, Scopely, Deep Current, HUM Nutrition and many others. She is a Hudson-certified Executive Coach, a certified EQ Mentor and ICF-ACC certified. Her coaching practice includes both individual leadership coaching, as well as team/culture coaching, primarily for startups between Seed and Series C.
She’s heavily involved in LA’s startup ecosystem and is a mentor for TechstarsLA and SAM’s Preccelerator. In addition to being on the Board of Directors for Women Founders Network, she’s on the Board of Target Zero, as well as going to prison as often as possible with DEFY Ventures. @janinenerd, @evolutionsvc.