In business, is it better to be an extrovert or introvert?


Both are essential to running a successful business.

By Beate Chelette

Lots of talk these days about introverts and extroverts, generated by the bestselling book Quiet: The Power of the Introvert in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Herself an introvert, author Susan Cain writes that introverts are “too often denigrated and frequently overlooked in a society that’s held in thrall to an extrovert Ideal–the belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha and comfortable in the spotlight.”

The truth is, it’s not an either-or situation. Every person has many different faces, and it is all too easy to forget that. I come across business owners all the time who wish they could create an army of Mini-Mes, a team of people who are all just like them. Yet the real power comes from having people on your team who are different because they can do jobs that you might not have an innate preference for.

Let’s dive into this deeper. Recently I became a Certified Practitioner of the MBTI Step I and Step II Instruments. MBTI is also known as Meyers Briggs psychological type theory. I asked my team to fill out the standard 93 questionnaire designed to measure innate type preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. I reassured my team it isn’t a test—it isn’t—and that there were no right or wrong answers. It’s simply an effective tool to help people build relationships—and teams– and to understand why differences arise at home and in the workplace. Most importantly though, with an understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, team building becomes so much easier and effective.

We all have two different but complimentary sides of our nature, but with a preference for the outer world of activities, people, and being in the spotlight or the inner world of thoughts, interests, ideas, and imagination.

No surprises here, I’m an extrovert. I get energy from being out and about meeting people and I love speaking to large groups of people! As a professional career coach and founder of The Women’s Code, my extroversion helps me in spreading my message. And true to my type, I like following a systematic, logical process. With my innate preference to build these logical step-by-step systems, I have helped many women become very successful.

But back to introversion versus extroversion. Of course, I also see the great value that introverts have in business and in life. Where would be without these famous introverts? Vincent Van Gogh, Frederic Chopin, Mahatma Gandhi, Al Gore, Eleanor Roosevelt, J. K. Rowling, Steven Spielberg, and Steve Wozniak. Introversion simply means that they tend to have a preference to be energized from within, and in private.

Knowing more about how you—and others tick—can help to:

  • Avoid and resolve conflicts
  • Play to an individual’s strengths
  • Identify gaps in the team
  • Aid career development
  • Work together more effectively
  • Relate to each other with greater understanding
  • Encourage team members to understand and appreciate different strengths

The MBTI results confirmed what I have always believed—every “type” has their place. One of my writers, Mary, for example, is doing the exact job she is best suited for given that she measured as an introvert with other traits of being curious, quick to see possibilities and intuitive. She likes to think about things before she goes into action. And she is “perceiving,” meaning she considers how something will impact other people. True to her type, she asked me right afterward if this assessment would allow people to still be individuals. (And the answer is, of course, yes.)

My executive photo assistant on the other hand is an extrovert. Michael is spontaneous, imaginative and loves to talk. He makes connections between things quickly and like me, he needs to understand how things work, which is why I sent him, not Mary, to a training class to learn a complicated computer software program. The thing is, I need them both in order to carry out different facets of my business.

Awareness of our differences, and the acceptance of them, is the first pillar of The Women’s Code, the foundation of which is: every woman must have the tools to find her own unique voice so that she can speak clearly and be heard. Support and collaboration comes next. (Remember, sisterhood—what happened to it?) Once we realize that all of us have a place, then we must support each other the way we are—flaws and all–to become the best version of ourselves, the best team, possible. That alone leads to meaningful collaboration.

During a recent girls night out, the introvert in the group, Mary, jumped up and declared that she loved to dance and spun around in my friend’s house. Her infectious and quiet enthusiasm got us all up and dancing. Who would have thought that our reflective introvert was kicking this party in high gear! It showed that our goal must be to embrace and celebrate our differences, so that we can find more meaningful touch points that build our energy and form a stronger whole. Just like a puzzle. Each piece, while unique, forms an integrated image.


Marketing Doesn’t Work


It’s not true, of course. But to attract new clients and customers, you need more than a catchy headline.

By Beate Chelette

Admit it, this headline got your attention. It uses a well-known marketing trick–a catchy, provocative headline. The majority of readers will never open your emails if they don’t contain some kind of hook. That’s just a given these days with the TMI (too much information) overload most of us experience. A recent study by Harris Interactive showed that while interesting visuals are also strong lures, catchy headlines were “the top influencer on Americans likelihood to read an online or print article,” researchers found.

Ok, point made, but there’s much more to successful marketing—and a successful career–and it has to do with changing your business and your style as your industry changes. Let me give you an example so you can understand how in the photography business (where I started and made my money), it changed and I moved right along with it.

I went from being an artist, to a businesswoman, to a successful career coach. Along the way, I wore many hats, all chosen because of realizations I had at various times.

First realization

Most artists don’t make money. Sad but true. Only a few become successful and the rest try to glorify the bohemian lifestyle. It didn’t take long to figure out that being broke is overrated. You can’t really do much or move forward if you can’t afford doing things that cost money. For better or worse, remaining stagnant and continuous struggling is not for me and I doubt that state works for anyone.

Second realization

Business people make money. They begin at so-called entry-level positions and with enough time and effort invested, they move up the ladder. That means they make more money, become better connected and essentially more successful. I was motivated to combine both, because I love both, the artistry and the business side. And I had to get good at both in order to reap the success I now have.

Third realization

The way business is done is constantly changing. In two decades we went from faxing, which was considered revolutionary in the mid-90s, to scanning, texting and tweeting. Ever wonder what’s next? Admittedly, I’m an information and tech gadget junkie. I love invention, technology and finding new ways of doing things. I don’t like rules—they are there to be bent or broken as far as I’m concerned.

To me it’s clear that if you follow where the money is being made, there is a good chance you will find ideas that are worth exploring. This is how innovators do it. A good example is Apple. They anticipated a need we didn’t even know we had, but as soon as we saw anything Apple we wanted it. It has become their edge to create user-friendly devices that we can’t live without. Who knew that we had to have personal computers until Apple told us that we did? Similarly, we didn’t know we needed an iPod or an iPad until the lines around the block told us not to wait.

Progress is like being Captain Kirk; you have to be willing to go where others haven’t gone before. That’s an essential trait for entrepreneurs—be willing to be bold and take risks. Even if it means you fail or get stuck, as I did on a recent hike when I strayed from the path and got stuck in thick underbrush that left scratches all over my body. Even though I got pretty beat up, it was still an adventure that was worth having, not to mention the stories I get to tell.

When I became successful as an entrepreneur, and sold my photography image licensing company to Bill Gates in 2006 for millions, people wanted to know how I did it. How was I able to start a business from scratch, work really hard at it, and then make a fortune? What were my secrets for success people asked? Here are two of them.

Work is not work to me. I hope that you can say the same. If you are interested in what is going on in your industry and in the world in general, if you stay open, you will see the many creative, fulfilling opportunities that are visible only to those open to change. As for me, I love combining my passion for helping people make money and advance their careers, with my love of business. When my clients become successful, I feel successful, so it’s a win-win all the way around. What does this scenario look like for you?

Don’t wait too long

As a career consultant for many years now, I urge you to ask yourself where your business is heading right now? Are you following where the next ideas and trends are going? Are you adapting to the changes in your industry or are you still waiting for things to go back to “normal?” Where do you fit on the Rogers’ bell curve, demonstrating the Diffusion of Innovation? (I am definitely an early adopter.)


Your realization

Maybe it’s time to jump start your business with a new marketing plan. Learn everything you can about how your industry is changing. Go to conferences, sharpen your skills, meet new people, and dive into understanding how this new world ticks. Be bold and courageous. Do that and you are in excellent shape!

Change or Move On?


When To Stay Put, Change, Or Move On

Your business will tell you which is right for you.

By Beate Chelette

More than three months after Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast, entire neighborhoods are still struggling to overcome the devastation. Homes remain under rubble, many others are uninhabitable, and weary residents debate whether to move or rebuild. A natural disaster zeroes in on the question of when to stay put, when to change or just move on.

Change is great when you have successfully gone through it, but I don’t know anyone who enjoys the usually painful process of growth that change forces on us. Wouldn’t it be easier just to stay put and hunker down, and wait out tough times? Or can we face that our old ways that once worked no longer serve us?

When to stay put

These themes are very pertinent to your career. If you can’t imagine doing anything else and love your work, it doesn’t make sense to leave it. As long as your passion burns brightly and your intuition tells you that you are in it to win it—that’s exciting, and of course you should stay. My career consulting business combines my passion for helping people make money and grow their business with my experience as a successful entrepreneur. Seeing my clients become successful makes me feel incredibly successful. Remember, to build any career, you have to give it 100 percent and do absolutely everything in your power to make it work. Then watch what happens.

When to change

This gets down to the nitty-gritty. Your business will tell you what is and isn’t working. There’s no way around it. Unless you are making money, what you do isn’t working. You need to consistently adjust your methods and ways of doing things. Business changes, so do people. New generations manage new information differently. Find out what it is, learn it and make it yours. Maybe your marketing efforts need a jump-start, or it’s time to shuffle your team in order to produce a better product or service.

Knowing how crucial it is to portray a professional image, in my communications department, I work with an experienced proofreader, an ad copywriter for company direct mail pieces, a hip chick for the snazzy things, and yet another writer, an award-winning journalist, for our blog posts and other special projects. Be sure to make a good first impression with words that are interesting and grammatically correct. You can make only one first impression, so make it a superb one!

When to move on

Here comes the tough love. Let’s face it—everything worthwhile in life is work. A good relationship, raising kids, being successful, all of it takes work. As does looking good and having a fit body. You can either spend your days complaining about how much work it is or you can do something about it. If you’re no longer excited about your work, ask yourself why and then start figuring out what’s next. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing a new career. After all, the average person supposedly has seven careers in their lifetime. Remember, it’s not over until it’s over and we have a long way to go!

How To Put Your Business On Steroids


Ten essentials for running a successful business.

By Beate Chelette

The question came up recently during a private coaching session with a client. What’s the right way to set up a business, she asked. And what will make it the most efficient? I happen to love questions like this because business is in my blood and helping people become successful is my passion and profession. My answers to my client—and to you–are based on my own personal and professional experiences in setting up companies, and what has worked for me.

Building a business is like building a house. Many steps are involved and it’s time consuming and costly. First, you have to have the right location, and then you design what your house should look like. It has to be functional but also have the right feel and vibe that represents your personality.

Second, decide on the type of materials and furnishings you want. Do you need (and can you afford) the best of the best or are medium-range things fine for you? Or are you going for cheap? Third, and most important, you have to build your house on a solid foundation, because even the most charming and best-designed home can crack or collapse with a shaky foundation.

Ten Essentials For Success

  1. Get a size too big. When creating your business, it’s crucial that you get everything a size too big, otherwise you have no room to grow. If you get a studio or office space, or a computer, camera, or any business system, only invest in things that have a greater capacity than what you need at the moment. It is smarter and cheaper to grow into something versus outgrowing your system within a year or two and then having to redo the entire thing again.
  1. A good accounting system. I recommend MYOB or QuickBooks Pro. Anything more simplified, forget it. Have a professional set up the shell of your line items, vendors, billing, banking, etc. Under no circumstances should anyone without accounting training set up your books. Violate this tip at your own peril!
  1. A good bookkeeper. I am good at numbers but it is not a good use of my time. Find someone who is licensed or trained on the accounting system you are using.
  1. Good technology. Don’t skimp on good equipment. Each item you need to get your job done right is an investment as well as an asset, so treat them as such.
  1. A good industry lawyer. Someone who has been in your industry for years and will give you standard agreements written long before you entered the game.
  1. A brilliant IT/tech person. You should not design your own website. It will show! Leave that to the pros.
  1. A reliable assistant, virtual or otherwise, to help you with day-to-day tasks.
  1. A good graphic designer who can do everything: web layouts, power points, visuals, logos, newsletter designs.
  1. A good writer. I have a proofreader and two writers for The Women’s Code because I know presenting a professional image is essential if you want to be taken seriously in business.
  1. A consultant, coach or business adviser. You need an independent eye to review your business plan and ask the tough questions. Hire people who are better than you in certain areas so you get another perspective. And here are two other secrets to success you don’t want to overlook.

I admit it; it’s a Catch 22. You can’t afford all of this until you make money and yet you can’t make money unless or until you have most of this in place. The key is to enlist the help of good support people at a decent rate. Your time is best spent on finding clients, schmoozing, and producing the best product or service you can.

Beate Chelette is a respected speaker, career coach and successful entrepreneur. After selling one of her companies to Bill Gates in 2006 for millions of dollars, and with a mission to create a global community of women supporting each other, Beate created The Women’s Code, a unique program that offers a new code of conduct for achieving success in today’s business, private and digital world.