Elon Musk and Other Successful Entrepreneurs Who are Introverts
Introversion and extroversion are two opposite personality traits that define how different prefers spend their time. Introverts tend to prefer quiet, solitary, and introspective experiences. While extroverts prefer to hang out with pals, share ideas and collaborate as much as possible. The truth remains that one is not better than the other. However, it is believed in several quarters that for introverts, entrepreneurship can be especially challenging.
However, this is just an assumption, an unfounded one for that matter.
The reality is actually that some of the most successful entrepreneurs of the 21st century are actually introverts. In fact not just in the 21st century, a search through history shows that introverts have always been among the most successful entrepreneurs in life.
So even though I believe that both extroverts and introverts can be successful entrepreneurs, yet if anyone has an advantage it should actually be introverts – at least judging from those who has done it.
And it is actually very easy to explain why this is so given that introverts have certain character traits that tends to make them more successful as entrepreneurs.
However, it is not all businesses that introverts will do well in. So for an introvert to be highly successful as an entrepreneur there is every need to carefully select business ideas that align with their introverted nature. And here is a list of unique business ideas for introverts.
Successful Entrepreneurs Who are Introverts
Here are some of the most successful entrepreneurs who are introverts:
1. Elon Musk
Who would believe this – the richest man on earth 9(it is safe to describe him as the most successful entrepreneur) was an introvert?
If you only got to know Musk as a Tesla boss or as the man who bought Twitter with all the surrounding controversy then you may not know this part of him. But the truth is that Musk started out as an introvert. In fact, he confessed same himself.
However, somewhere along the line, Musk realized he could do more if he can communicate better. With this he readjusted and re-calibrated his personal reserve to help his ideas flourish even more.
But never you forget it, Elon Musk was once an introvert.
2. Bill Gates
Elon Musk is the richest man on earth as at the time of writing this post. But if you ask some adults in America who the richest man in the world is, they will mention Bill Gates. Yes, Bill was the richest man on earth for such a long time that his name became a symbol for richest man on earth. And even when his no longer the one, some persons still refer to him as such.
So, if I ask you, what you know about this billionaire, what would be your answer?
You most likely will want to describe him as the founder of Microsoft, and also one of the richest billionaires on earth. Those who feel they know him deeper might add that he is a philanthropist. However, just very few knew that Gates started out as a solitary introvert. So how did he manage to succeed as an entrepreneur? He used the people around him to complement his own strengths and weaknesses.
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 . . . you’d better learn what extroverts do, you’d better hire some extroverts and tap into both sets of skills.” That was Bill Gates confirming how to become a successful entrepreneur as an introvert.
3. Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg was once described by COO Sheryl Sandberg as “shy and introverted, and he often does not seem very warm to people who don’t know him, but he is warm.” However, Mark has been able to build charisma through his introversion.
He achieved that by surrounding himself with team leaders who complement his strengths. And this is what has enabled him to build Facebook into the most powerful social media company in the world. And the shy Mark is still dreaming – watch out for Metaverse.
4. Larry Page
Another man in the list of introverts that became successful entrepreneurs is Larry Page.
Larry Page co-founded Google alongside Sergey Brin. Of course you know what has become of that company today. Page served as Google’s CEO until 2001 and then re-assumed the position in 2011 (lasting until 2015, during Google’s migration to Alphabet).
5. Warren Buffett
The next on our list of the most successful entrepreneurs that are introverts is Warren Buffett.
Buffett is currently the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He is one of the most successful investors in the world. His net worth of over $100 billion as of November 2022, makes him the world’s sixth-wealthiest person.
Yet, those who know him know him for his level-headedness, intellectual persistence, and critical thinking. They say he is introverted by nature but he still manages to lead one of the most prominent businesses in the country. That is the power of introverts.
He brings that calm personality into his communication style, letting his introverted tendencies serve as an entrepreneurial strength.
In fact, according to Buffett, when he started out, he had the “intellect for business,” but he felt he had to enroll in Dale Carnegie’s, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” course of seminars, because he didn’t have a “business personality”.
6. Steve Wozniak
He may not be as popular as Steve Jobs, but the second of the Steves that founded Apple also played a crucial role in the emergence of the company. So, in case you don’t know Woznaik, he is the co-founder of Apple. Report actually has it that Steve Jobs never wrote a single code that gave birth to Apple even though he was the face of the tech company.
A proof that Woznaik was indeed an introvert can be found in his own statement. “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.” – Steve Wozniak.
7. Guy Kawasaki
Guy Kawasaki is an American marketing specialist, author, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist. He was one of the Apple early employees originally responsible for marketing their Macintosh computer line in 1984. Guy shocked the whole world by succeeding in a field where introverts don’t dare cross. He even dared to invent his own marketing language – like popularizing the word ‘evangelist’ as a marketing term.
On August 10, 2008, in a tweet posted by Guy Kawasaki, he said: “You may find this hard to believe, but I am an introvert. I have a role to play, but I am fundamentally a loner”.
Other Successful Men/Women Who are Introverts
1. Albeit Einstein – Noble Prize Winner and Founder Theory of Relativity
2. Isaac Newton – Founder, Laws of Motion and Universal Gravitation
3. Eleanor Roosevelt – Wife of Former American President
4. Rosa Parks – The Mother of The Freedom Movement
5. Steven Spielberg – Hollywood Personality
6. Marissa Mayer – Former CEO of Yahoo
7. Theodor Seuss Geisel – American Children Author and Cartoonist
Important Lessons from Successful Entrepreneurs Who are Introverts
I think there are many lessons that we can draw from the life and success stories of the following entrepreneurs who became highly successful despite being introverts. So if you are an introvert seeking for ways to succeed as an entrepreneur, this is for you:
The biggest lesson is that nature doesn’t predict success or otherwise. Yeah, being an introvert or extrovert is not the making of any of us. It is the way we are created – it is natural. So it is important to understand that neither extroverts nor introverts are guaranteed to succeed in the business world. Your success is determined by the actions you take, and not by who you are as a person.
The next lesson I see here can be likened to the concept of desirable difficulty. Even when others see introversion as a disadvantage you can ultimately use it to your advantage. The good news is that there are certain character traits of introverts that are leverages for success. So use them to your advantage.
Introversion doesn’t necessarily dictate your behavior. Just because you’re introverted doesn’t mean you can’t socialize. No. You can still do it the introvert’s way. Take a clue from people like Elon Musk or Warren Buffet, and work past your introversion by developing yourself into a more communicative, charismatic figure suited for the kind of business you want to build.
Leverage on other peoples’ strength to overcome your own ‘weaknesses’. Bill Gates learnt how to use the people around him to achieve what he wants. You can do same. Truth is that though it is possible to try to do everything yourself, but it is ultimately not the wisest thing to do. This is more so when you are an introvert.
Being an introvert doesn’t mean entrepreneurship is impossible for you. And it doesn’t even mean it has to be difficult. It just means you have a different set of skills and a different disposition that must be considered when you’re building your team and your business.
Know your own strengths and weaknesses, and adapt or make up for them accordingly; with this approach, you’ll be successful no matter how you started out.
Note, that whether as an introvert or an extrovert you are not sufficient unto yourself. You will eventually need others at one point or the other. And in choosing people to work with, as much as possible choose people that complement you. That means if you are an introvert, it might just be better to choose a partner that is an extrovert; and vice versa.
For example, Steve Wozniak, an introvert, invented the first Apple computer whilst alone in his garage. But when he joined with famous extrovert Steve Jobs, they created one of the world’s most well-known and recognizable companies.
Don’t let your nature hold you back.
Introverts can actually be some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world.