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Why "creative introverts" may hold all the cards

Are you a quiet, analytical, unshakable, loner that thrives on coming up with creative solutions to problems?

I like to think of myself as creative, and I’ve learned I am more of an introvert (ISFJ) and a protector according to the Briggs Meyers personality test  I took a couple weeks ago. Of course, I kind of knew that going in.

After reading the summaries, I have to be honest, I thought that where I am professionally and personally, I have peaked. I am where I am, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  It was almost reassuring, yet discouraging at the same time.  Then I thought, why would we allow a test to totally define who we are? Our whole lives we’re told we have control over who we are, who we become, and nothing stands in our way except for our own apprehension, insecurity, or doubt.

Then, almost serendipitously, a couple articles came across my Reader.  One, “Are the people in your organization too smart to be creative” and “Introverted employees make the best leaders“.

The first cites an IBM global survey of more than 1,500 CEOs, who identified”creativity as the most important leadership competency for the successful enterprise of the future“.  Good news for those of us that are seen as creative. But wait, in the same article, a study in the US and India found that “organizations may face a bias against selecting the most creative individuals as leaders in favor of selecting leaders who preserve the status quo by sticking with feasible but relatively unoriginal solutions.” The article talks about how creatives can be very vocal and rock the boat, battle the status quo. Sounds kind of extroverted.  So…

Creative = Good.
Extroverted = Not always good.

Then the second article came through. “Introverted employees make the best leaders” by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler.  Needless to say, that caught my attention.  4 out of 10 execs consider themselves introverts. Does that mean that 60% consider themselves extroverts? This would conflict somewhat with the US/India study in the first article that found that perhaps extroverts don’t make the best leaders. Maybe, it just means the 60%  are non-creative extroverts. Either way, almost half are introverts and include names like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and perhaps President Obama.  Jennifer goes on to list the reasons introverts make better leaders. Characteristics like thinking before speaking, seeking depth of understanding, being calm,  writing over speaking, and embracing solitude. That’s me in a nutshell…a quiet, analytical, unshakable, loner that thrives on coming up with creative solutions to problems. So…

Introverted = good.

The way I see it, if you are a creative introvert, you just might be what companies need in terms of leadership qualities and characteristics. Just remember, opportunities to lead just don’t fall in your lap. You have to first, want them, and second, earn them, so don’t fall victim to the apprehension, insecurity, or doubt that may hold you back.

How do you lead?

How to fuel creativity? Do your kids' homework

Earlier this week, I blogged about my daughter’s homework assignment: a paragraph a week and how companies could deploy this concept to engage with employees, invigorate employee creativity, and in the process get a ton of new ideas.

Then I thought more about it….Why would just companies benefit from this assignment?Why couldn’t individuals?

Creativity in school is becoming more and more prevelent as teachers try to tap into kids’ creativity as a way to not only encourage it, but develop new and exciting ways to teach and thus learn.   I did a post on the topic for Seagate a ways back: Reaping the rewards of the creative continuum, “the article argues, that students should be measured on how well they create as well as how effectively they consume.”

I don’t know about you, but some of the homework my kids bring home really stretches the bounds of their creativity. What a great excercise for all of us, so I am going to try it out.  I am going to do my kids homework.  Not for them, for me.  It not only get to engage more with my kids and their schoolwork,  but it may unleash ideas and thoughts I may have on any number of topics…we’ll see what we get assigned.

I’ll start with the paragraph of the week assignment and see how it goes.  Eventually, maybe I’ll branch out into collages, book reports, and art.

I’m done with math, so don’t count on that.

Try it out.

Lessons from a 6th grade assignment

Each week my 11 year daughter has to write a paragraph on a topic provided by the teacher. This week her topic was “silence” and the assignment was to include the use of similes in her writing. How does she define silence? What does silence mean to her? What is it “like”?

What a great exercise for not only a 6th grader, but for each and every one of us, especially marketers. Some may equate this sort of assignment as blogging, and in many cases, it is. It provides a means for us to freestyle, to write whatever pops in our heads, to expand on points and think through ideas, concepts, and proof points to the opinions we have.

It can be a powerful tool for marketers as a creative outlet, providing alternative ways of looking at things. Perhaps marketing departments, no companies, could deploy the same assignment to employees. Don’t ask a question, or pose an opinion or strategy to expound on. Simply provide the word.

Allow employees from sales, marketing, IT, any department to share their definitions, provide their perspective. It may prove to be a valuable exercise in developing new messaging, products, strategies, while providing employees with a way to express their creativity.

And we could all use some of that every day.

Using metrics to be more creative

image by: Shutterstock

I have to admit, as much as I like to get my creative juices flowing, I have the same hunger for numbers. In this case metrics.  Maybe it’s the geek in me that wants to understand what customers are drawn to. What content they consume, when, and for what reason.

One of my first posts on myndfuel was related to the buying cycle and how content should be targeted to customers at each stage of the cycle, ultimately leading them to purchase. Right now, I am attempting to apply the fundamental rules of content marketing to metrics. Thus far, I have been able to measure how many downloads or views of specific content exist, but not able to identify down to the unique customer which I think is key here.

The problem with metrics like downloads or views is that they don’t really get into the mind of the customer.  They don’t tell me if the content took them down a path. If it addressed their needs.  Sure it says, the content is being utilized, but is is accomplishing its ultimate goal related to the stages of the buying process?

That’s the dilemma I’m in, and I expect the experts on the analytics side will help me gauge what is measurable, beacuse my job is to take such measurements and create something actionable.  In this case, as a marketer, more effective content across all segments of customers, across all stages of the buying process, with proof that it’s working (of course).

One of the best takes on metrics was c/o Chris Brogan. Chris said, “The distance between metrics and analytics is the difference between statistics and intent.” So true whether the analytics and metrics are social media, or traditional marketing. Understanding your customers is the ultimate means to success.

So I am off, doing what I can to understand our customers and that my friends will satisfy the creative and analytical sides of me.

Related Posts:

Content as the path through the buying process
Content marketing: don’t blame the club
my notes: Influencing B2B Buying Decisions Through Social Media