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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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CEOs That Are Introverts

Comments (9)

Often there’s a perception that to be a successful CEO, you need to be an extrovert.  Media and pop culture reinforces this – we regularly see people that are comfortable in the spotlight and equate them with the model of success.

I’ve always had a number of CEOs and entrepreneurs that I’ve worked with that are introverts.  While they are comfortable being in a public forum, they prefer to be either alone, with their family, or in small settings.  My wife Amy has often told me that I’m a closet introvert (nope – this doesn’t mean that I like to hang out in closets) – while I spent a lot of time in group settings (and am comfortable in this environment), I much prefer to either be alone, be with Amy, or have dinner with one person or a couple.

One of my introverted CEOs sent me a great article from USA Today titled “Not all successful CEOs are extroverts.”  It has some good nuggets and real data in it.  The punch line – in one of the studies, it was concluded that “the study found that the charismatic CEOs make more money, but make no difference to corporate performance.”

  • http://www.b5media.com Jeremy Wright

    I’m a social introvert. I work really well alone, but love to have people “on the fringes”. I love being at conferences, but when the night’s done I go back to my room for an hour to recharge my batteries.

    When I was younger it was a real challenge to balance the two aspects of my personality, but these days I look at them both as strengths. I can step up in social settings, but focus really well when alone.

    Introverts rule ;-)

  • http://www.merchantcircle.com Ben

    No one who does not really know me well never believes this but I am one of those introverts CEO’s who figured out that part of my role in life is to communicate even though that is not really what I like. It always blows people away when the see one of those assessments on me and find out that I am a natural introvert and find out I did not really say much of anything until age 7 when I told my Mom it was because, “I did not have much to say”

    I prefer quiet time alone or with a couple of people thinking. My co-founder from http://www.spoke.com, Chris Tolles figured this out once when we sat on the balcony of a NY hotel once and I said nothing for about 4 hours while thinking the entire time.

    So even us loud mouth opinionated CEO’s might in fact be introverts. Now as you might imagine this makes all this “work” communicating pretty tiring. As my daughter notes, “so you get paid to talk all day”

  • PRoales

    Nature covered a related topic yesterday:

    “The Rewards of Being Shy”

    http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2006/613/3

  • Pete

    Brad – one of the CEOs featured in the article is Chris Scherpenseel, who is also on the board of my company, ProtoTest. Chris has been a tremendous advisor and a good friend. In characteristic fashion, he described being mentioned in the article as “humbling.”

    Pete

  • Martha

    Personally, I think you’re a charismatic introvert!!

  • http://onstartups.com Dharmesh Shah

    I’m on of those introvert/CEOs myself.

    Though I can, when needed, function pretty well in public and social settings, I lean strongly towards being along or small groups.

    Great to hear I’m not alone, and that it is ok to be introverted, even when you’re CEO.

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