The world’s richest man, an NBA star turned businessman, an investing genius, and the founder of her own company– these are just a few examples of the incredible success stories we have for you today.
Who says introverts can’t be wildly successful? And who says it’s never been done before? These are examples of how you can not only succeed as an introvert, but even reach the top of your industry.
Today, we’re bringing you 7 motivational introvert business success stories. Let’s get started!
by Susan Cain
⏱ 13 minutes reading time
🎧 Audio version available
We’re starting off big! This inspirational business magnate is probably the richest introvert in the world: Bill Gates.
For those who aren’t familiar with the outrageous success that Bill Gates achieved, here are a few highlights. Bill Gates is the co-founder of Microsoft, worth billions of dollars, and was the world’s wealthiest person for several years before he retired and his spot was taken by Jeff Bezos.
Now, believe it or not, Gates is known to be an introvert. He happily owns up to it and figures out ways to work around his introversion and to use it to his advantage.
In his own words,
“If you’re clever, you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert, which might be, say, being willing to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area. Then, if you come up with something, if you want to hire people, get them excited, build a company around that idea, you better learn what extroverts do, you better hire some extroverts, like Steve Ballmer I would claim as an extrovert, and tap into both sets of skills in order to have a company that thrives both in deep thinking and building teams and going out into the world to sell those ideas.”
Bill Gates also shared another piece of advice to fellow introverts.
“Introverts can be successful by recognizing and taking advantage of their own unique strengths.”
So, what is a unique strength introverts are known for? It’s none other than most introverts’ favorite hobby: reading. Bill reports that, even from a young age, he would finish one book per week. This fuels “his sense of curiosity,” as well as helps him see new perspectives, and learn new things.
That’s right. The man who is regarded as the greatest basketball player to ever walk the earth is an introvert! He is also determined. This is the man who says,
“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”
While the NBA made him famous, it was his business savvy mind that skyrocketed his net worth. Sponsors, investments, clothing lines, shoe lines, and more have made him a billionaire.
Michael Jordan doesn’t see his introversion as something to be ashamed of or hide. He’s proof that quiet personalities can thrive, even in the spotlight, despite what others may think. With his status as an icon in NBA history, he’s inspired many to go after their dreams. And his success doesn’t end with his legendary basketball career. Even years after he retired, he managed to bring home another trophy– an Emmy for his award-winning documentary, The Last Dance, which reminded the world of Jordan’s determination, strength, and work ethics that led him to become a success.
Now, he’s one of the most marketed athletes in history, as well as the first basketball player to claim his seat at the billionaires’ table.
How could we mention billionaires without talking about the shyest billionaire of them all? Mark Zuckerberg’s reputation precedes him, and his success speaks for itself. COO Sheryl Sandberg once described the Facebook founder as
“shy and introverted”
He also warned that while
“he often does not seem very warm to people who don’t know him, but he is warm.”
See, while Zuckerberg likes to keep to himself, he’s been able to build an entire empire by surrounding himself with those who complement his strengths and compensate for any weaknesses. This allowed him to build a billion dollar company and make Facebook the social media behemoth it is today.
The Oracle of Omaha is…an introvert. Not only that, according to Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts, he is a
“classic example of an introvert taking careful, well-calibrated risks.”
Warren Buffett constantly and consistently challenges everything a billionaire should be. Buffett is a minimalist, is still living in the five-bedroom home he bought in the 50s, is a big saver, and rarely takes risks. He’s also one of the most inspiring successful businessmen of all time.
He didn’t get to where he is by accident. He worked hard. While he embraced his personality, he knew he had to stop getting tongue-tied around others. As his career kicked off, he made the life-changing decision to invest extra time in another venture. He took Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People seminars to learn how to better connect with others.
According to him, he
“had the intellect for business, but not the persona.”
He took the course because he
“had to to learn to communicate with people better, particularly in groups,”
“he couldn’t go through life being terrified to speak in public.”
So he took the course, studied how he could best connect with people, and researched his way out of his dilemma. This gave him the tools to convince people to join his investment group. He was also able to gather the courage to ask his girlfriend to marry him, so it was a win-win.
“I didn’t set out to be at the top of technology companies. I’m just geeky and shy and I like to code.”
This is a famous quote from the introverted queen of tech herself, Marissa Mayer, former Yahoo CEO and the co-founder of her own company, Lumi Labs.
Mayer is a proud introvert who doesn’t care for crowds or parties. She didn’t let that stop her from becoming a wildly successful Silicon Valley leader– one of the top, in fact. Mayer has enjoyed a legendary career as Google’s first female engineer, overseeing massive products such as Google Adwords. In 2012, she faced backlash and criticism when she became Yahoo’s CEO. Despite constant criticism from journalists, and her peers, who hounded her on every executive decision she made, she continued to thrive.
Her secret? She coached herself on how to come out of her shell when needed. When the time came when she needed to stop retreating into her space, she had a mantra. If she’s at a party, for example, if she wants to leave during the first 15 minutes, even if the party is at her home, she tells herself,
“You can’t leave until time X. If you’re still having a terrible time at time X, you can leave.”
More often than not, she ends up overcoming her social awkwardness and has fun. If not, well, she’s still a highly successful CEO.
Steve Wozniak is Steve Jobs’s introverted counterpart. Wozniak had a powerful idea in his hands, but he needed a partner to bring it to life. He partnered with the extrovert Steve Jobs, and together, they founded Apple.
His policy is that working alone can revolutionize the tech world. He’s famously quoted saying,
“I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has ever been invented by committee… I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone… Not on a committee. Not on a team.”
Can any introvert success story be more motivating than the world’s current richest man? You probably already know him as the real-life version of Tony Stark. Elon Musk is the revolutionary founder and CEO of SpaceX, the CEO of Tesla, and the founder and board member of several other companies.
Unlike Tony Stark, Musk is the embodiment of a powerful, yet soft-spoken, CEO. He has admitted that he prefers to stay in his shell, but occasionally comes out for business. He says,
“I’m basically like an introverted engineer, so, it took a lot of practice and effort to be able to go up on stage and not just stammer basically…As the CEO, you kind of have to.”
It’s no wonder he had to work on his people skills. There is not a day that goes by without him on the news, doing interviews, and working with people to move his products along.
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