March 15, 2024

The Reflective CMO: Harnessing Introversion

Is the pen mightier than the roar in the realm of B2B marketing? Witness the unexpected edge introverted leaders like Bill Strawderman of GS1 US, Julie Kaplan of CareMetx, and Lorie Coulombe of Q4, Inc. wield in an arena where they turn introspection into influential strategy. 

Join us as we delve into how introversion shapes effective leadership. From the power of the thoughtful pause to mastering calm under pressure, we explore the misconceptions of shyness, how to be heard in executive meetings, how to consciously build balanced teams, and a whole lot more. 

Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert—or somewhere in between—this episode promises insights that will reshape or refresh your approach to communication and leadership. Don’t miss it! 

What You’ll Learn 

  • The strengths of introverted leadership 
  • How to be heard in executive meetings  
  • How to build balanced, diverse teams  

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 388 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned 


  • [3:49] Bill Strawderman: A high “I” on Myers Briggs 
  • [7:18] Developing introversion  
  • [11:51] Julie Kaplan: Shy does not mean introverted   
  • [12:40] Remote work and introversion  
  • [19:10] Lorie Coulombe: Stretch your comfort zone 
  • [23:13] Conscious team building  
  • [25:58] CMO Huddles: Your personal board of advisors 
  • [29:22] Be heard in exec meetings 
  • [32:45] Hiring and mentoring a balanced team  
  • [34:06] Calm under pressure 
  • [36:52] Under-communication 
  • [39:19] Reluctance to self-promote 
  • [43:35] Wisdom for introverted leaders 

Highlighted Quotes  

“If you can’t disarm with charm, then come armed with the data.” —Bill Strawderman, CMO of GS1 US

“Own who you are. Find a way to make whatever your natural traits are advantageous to you, your team, and your career.” —Julie Kaplan, SVP, Marketing & Revenue Operations at CareMetx 

“You need people who have different skills and bring different ways of thinking to the group. That only makes the team stronger.” —Lorie Coulombe, EVP, Marketing at Q4, Inc.

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Bill Strawderman, Julie Kaplan, Lorie Coulombe


Drew: Hello, Renegade Marketers. I’m excited that you’re here to listen to another episode of Renegade Marketers Unite. This show is brought to you by CMO Huddles, the only marketing community dedicated to inspiring B2B greatness, and that donates 1% of revenue to the Global Penguin Society. Wait, what? Well, it turns out that B2B CMOs and penguins have more in common than you think. Both are highly curious and remarkable problem solvers. Both prevail in harsh environments by working together with peers. And just as a group of penguins is called a Huddle. Over 352 B2B CMOs come together and support each other via CMO Huddles. If you’re a B2B marketer who could share, care, and dare with the best of them, do yourself a favor and dive into CMO Huddles. We even have a free starter program, and of course, our robust Leader Program, neither of which requires a penguin’s hat. Thank goodness, join us. And before we get to the episode, let me do a quick shout out to the professionals that share your genius. We started working with them over a year ago to make this show even better and have been blown away by their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at and tell her Drew sent you.

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing Renegade, Drew Neisser.

Drew: Hello, Renegade Marketers. Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite the top-rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing-obsessed individuals. You’re about to listen to a recording of CMO Huddles studio, our live show featuring the CMOs of CMO Huddles, a community that’s sharing, caring, and daring each other to greatness every day of the week. This time around we’ve got a conversation on the introverted CMO with Huddlers Bill Strowderman of GS1 US, Julie Kaplan of CareMetx, and Lorie Coulombe of Q4, Inc. Let’s dive in. 

I’m your host Drew Neisser, live from my home studio in New York City. Welcome to today’s episode, the introverted CMO. Did you notice how I just started talking softer because we’re talking introverts here, where we challenge the prevalent misconception that success in marketing leadership positions are reserved for the extroverted. Instead, we dive into a compelling exploration of CMOs, who proudly identify with their “I” as an introverted seeing their temperament not as a comparative weakness but as a defining strength. So whether you’re an introverted marketer looking for inspiration, or have staffers who share this trait, join us in unveiling strategies for navigating the often noisy marketing arena and discover the underestimated power of introversion in the world of B2B marketing.

Drew: And with that, let’s bring on Bill Strawderman, CMO of GS1 US and a returning guest who previously appeared on the show to discuss brand refresh and leadership. Hello, Bill. How are you? And where are you?

Bill: Hello, Drew. Good to see you again. I am in Ewing, New Jersey, which is sandwiched between the City of Brotherly Love and Gotham City.

Drew: There we go. All right. So this show was actually your idea. And it started with you saying you indexed high on “I” on Myers Briggs. So let’s talk about how you feel about introversion and how it shaped your leadership style as a CMO.

Bill: Okay, yeah, you know, it’s funny in Myers Briggs, I’m kind of an INTJ, which is, as I understand it, the architect. So you kind of blend a couple of different personality variables there. The things that I would say are kind of more central to how I am an introvert is really the internal processing world. There’s a lot that goes on, I think behind the scenes in my mind, that comfort that comes with familiarity, familiar places, familiar people, familiar crowds, those types of things. Those are the two primary things.

Drew: And so internal processing is funny because I did some research on this and one of the strengths of an introvert in theory is deep thinking. So that seems like what internal processing is about –  going into a subject and getting there deep and not necessarily taking you to the first thing you see but really pushing yourself to find the insight?

Bill: Yeah, I think that’s right Drew, I mean, I would say that using quiet and listening as kind of an advantage is great, because there’s a lot that goes on around you, and you have to be able to separate signal from noise. And so part of that internal processing, I think, and extroverts may do that, as well. But maybe more commonly, there’s a little bit more of that external processing that goes on. And that’s that thinking that’s happening in real-time and verbally, I tend to kind of put it into the background and let it run for a while. I also tend to think that when I say something, I’m trying to speak for impact. And I come from a line of educators and I have this desire to teach and grow others. So it’s probably just part of the composition of me and my upbringing.

Drew: One of the things you said was using quiet and I know, for extroverts, like myself, quiet is scary, and you had to actually train yourself to not fill it sometimes. That’s a really interesting thing. And using quiet, it’s funny, it’s in negotiation books, you hear it a lot, is you don’t have to respond right away, you can listen, and Tim Cook has that special strength of using quiet. The second thing you mentioned, was listening. And that seems like a skill that has completely gone by the wayside. I’m just curious, as you’re listening, what an extrovert does is they listen while they’re figuring out what they’re going to say. And listens. So, you know, I don’t know if there’s a question there or not. But I’m just curious. And as you think about that, and you watch in a room full of executives, and you’re the introvert, actually listening and processing, do you find yourself being able to take advantage of that?

Bill: I think so because you know, at the end of the day, you’re really trying to do synthesis. And you want to find a point where I think you’re going to provide value into the conversation. And that’s not to say, by contrast, that extroverts are not, it’s just I think, for me, it comes back to this question of, I’d really like to provide a meaningful contribution if I can. And that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to have a point of view on everything. It’s like, I can sit back and say, maybe this isn’t a place where I can actually add some distinct value. So you have to look for the opportunities and listen for them.

Drew: I’m wondering if you could share a moment in your career where being an introvert has proven to be a sort of an unexpected advantage?

Bill: Yeah, I mean, I guess what I would say is that I sort of, was not always introverted, believe it or not, I think I was a little bit of a class clown growing up, I kind of had a little bit more of shoot from the hip approach to coming to conclusions. I’ll reflect on this, I think a little bit later is that I had an executive coach as a byproduct of a mentor of mine saying, like, You’re not very easy to get along with people think you’re smart, but you’re misdirected in terms of how you’re engaging others and trying to really figure out the difference between being right, and adding value or getting to a great answer. And so through that coaching, I’ve just sort of learned to step back to actually take stock of the environment and kind of use that more in a way that’s engaging and enrolling.

Drew: Wow, boy, sure, wish I had your coach 25 minutes ago. Interesting. So you actually developed a sense of introversion to sort of help find balance. And what’s interesting, you also said I just make a point about that is that extroverts and I know this for myself, and I have to watch it, tend to be able to look at a situation and make a quick decision. And obviously making a decision is important. And sometimes just making a decision is the right decision, as opposed to trying to get it perfect, but I’m sure you’re seeing circumstances where an extrovert in front of you is just boom, okay, let’s do that. And sometimes that happens to be the CEO. And you must struggle with it at this point and say, Well, shouldn’t we be thinking this through?

Bill: Yeah, I mean, I think there’s sort of this fine line between being quick on your feet, which I don’t think I’m slow on my feet hopefully, and kind of really figuring out in more game theory is this the right approach, is the wise approach. Sometimes fast moving is fast-moving, and you’ve got to go with the flow. The way to sort of think about it is, this is a continuum, and you have to have the ability to span the poles. So I think all of us, to some extent, have introverted tendencies and extroverted tendencies, this question of like, situationally, how do you pull them out at the right time and not overuse one to your detriment?

Drew: As I’m thinking about this, you know, we use the title in the show self-awareness, and I feel like that’s such a powerful characteristic, yet, we know people who aren’t self-aware. We might work with them all the time. And so this is an interesting journey that you’ve been on, extrovert to introvert, recognizing that you can’t always just rely on that one characteristic, I think that’s really interesting. Another characteristic of introverts is they do not like networking, but they are really good at building deep relationships. And I’m just curious if that applies to you, and again, how that impacts your approach to those two areas.

Bill: Yeah, I think 100% I am probably self-described as an awkward networker. And it comes back to the question of like, comfort with familiarity, the preference for kind of smaller, tighter, deeper circles. So the funny thing about that is that in order to get into a circle to begin with, you have to take a step right, you have to be willing to kind of figure out a strategy to break through. For me, it’s one of those lifelong development things that is a challenge for me to kind of go into sort of like a big sea of people that I don’t know and sort of say, how am I going to kind of fit in, create value, start a conversation, those types of things. Definitely, I would say, on the introversion scale, that’s still a big personal development challenge.

Drew: You know, I think even extroverts struggle with that. I think about the time you go to a conference, you’re there solo, there’s no wingman, and so forth. And one of the ideas that I read recently on that, which is so smart, is when you check in, you check in with the organizer, and you say, “Hey, is there somebody here I should talk to?” because all you need is that icebreaker because you are a good listener, and you are likely to go deep. And then you sort of develop that deep relationship with an individual, and that’s the success. 

We’ll be back to Bill. Now, we’re going to bring on Julie Kaplan, CMO of CareMetx, and an industry expert who has graced our stage before, to delve into the topic of culture wins, and the first 90 days. Hello, Julie, wonderful to see you again. How are you? And where are you?

Julie: Oh, I’m great. I am in Maryland.

Drew: So let’s talk about introversion and how that’s influenced your career and leadership style.

Julie: So a lot of people mistake or use the term shy and introverted interchangeably. And I would say that’s not the case for me. I am not shy, I am quiet. Much of what Bill said earlier could apply to me as well. I tend to reflect. I tend to listen more than talk. And all of these qualities have shaped my style, who I am fundamentally, and by extension, how I lead and how I coach other people.

Drew: And so okay, great point about shy and introverted and the distinctions. Given that you’re a better listener in theory, talk about a circumstance where that really helped you. And it’s funny because I can think of situations myself where I actually took a beat, and I listened a little bit more, and maybe I asked another question, we got to a different place than I had expected with the first initial response. So I’m just curious, in your work life, where that listening skill and ability to reflect before you jump in has paid out.

Julie: A couple of places, but the thing that jumps to mind at the moment is there are a lot of people right now in the world and in the workplace, feeling unseen, unheard, isolated, these are words I hear a lot. And when you listen first, before talking, you are much more likely to have the person on the other end of the conversation feel seen, feel heard. And we know that that is a step in the right direction of helping people feel less isolated in the workplace, especially in a virtual world, and especially in a world where there’s a lot going on outside and inside the company. That’s the one that comes to mind first.

Drew: Yeah, it is a challenging time. And it feels like because of work from home, that disconnection is only going to get worse. And I worry for introverts because they won’t necessarily say, “I’m feeling unseen, unheard or isolated.” They’ll just let it happen. To some extent, they may even think, “Oh, this is good for me. I kind of like being it,” but it’s not necessarily so. As a leader, and also being aware of what an introvert needs, how do you then engage other than listening? I mean, there’s all sorts of kinds of listening, anything you’ve done of late in particular, the last three years, that you feel has sort of helped cut through to another introvert perhaps?

Julie: Well, where I’d say is I have stepped up the one-on-ones, which applies as to my extroverted and introverted colleagues, but I learned a lot more from that. And I think you just have to do a lot more one-on-ones in a virtual workplace because you’re not going to accidentally have a conversation at the water cooler. So you have to create a space for that. The advantage for introverts is, when you have a one-on-one conversation, they’re not considering the other people in the conversation, they can limit the interaction to one-to-one. And that allows you to bring a little bit more of what they might be concerned about, then there’s a series of questions that I like to ask that tend to be open-ended and maybe not commonplace that helped me understand what they might be going through, questions like, “Tell me your challenges,” or “Tell me what you feel was a win,” “Tell me what you were disappointed in this week.” And that might help bring out some of the things that they’re concerned about that they might not have if you said, “What are your concerns?” They might not have answered that question.

Drew: They’re great questions. And they are not necessarily the way an extrovert would phrase the question. I’m thinking now of managing up and let’s say you’re reporting to an extrovert, who wouldn’t think to ask that question. I’m curious, can you train them? Because it’s like, it’s the care and feeding of it. If you want to get the most out of an introverted CMO, these are the questions that you need to ask. Just curious how that works.

Julie: I really have not given much thought to how to train extroverts, but it sounds like a great book. I haven’t managed in that way, like a lot of what I do, and a lot of the conversations I have, and a lot of the quiet and reflection time that I use is about understanding my world. So I’m getting inputs, and I’m processing them. And I think Bill said it, you’re trying to differentiate between signals and noise, and you’re getting a lot of both all at once. So finding ways to limit the inputs is one way to do that.

Drew: Right, you have the ability to sort of focus and zero in, whereas extroverts might also tend more towards, “Hey, look a squirrel,” which should be again, a competitive advantage. So in general, introverts tend to be better writers, you know, goes back to what you were talking about being more reflective, really thinking things through. Do you lean into your writing skills a little more than you might your presenting skills?

Julie: Yeah, I used to. I do that less now than I used to, I used to think it all through and type it up in an email, and you can’t engage in a conversation in an email or through those means of communication, there are great times to use that. Like, for example, a great time to do the writing is after a meeting. And using the quiet alone time to sort out all of the things that you heard in a meeting and recap it either for everyone or just yourself, that is a great tool that you can use. It’s important not to use the tools in an unproductive way. And some too engaging in long essays that an extrovert stops at word three is just not a great use of time and not productive.

Drew: It’s sort of an issue of understanding versus persuasion. I mean, I used to say, if you can’t write it, well, you don’t understand it. And so writing is a really great way to sort of synthesize and understand what it is the challenge you’re facing, but it’s not necessarily persuasive. And so we just need to think about the differences. Okay?

Julie: You have to send the communication in a style and in a way that is suitable for your audience, whether they’re an extrovert or an introvert, or reader or listener, whatever it is. 

Drew: All right. All points well taken. And we will now bring on Lorie Coulombe, CMO at Q4, Inc. Hello, Lorie. How are you? And where are you?

Lorie: Hi, Drew. I am doing well. And I’m in New York City, too.

Drew: There you go. We could have put another mic here and had you there. All right. We’ll do that next time.

Drew: So you’ve heard from Bill and Julie and can you talk a little bit about your introversion levels and how they’ve shaped your career?

Lorie: You know, I’m going to repeat a bit of what both Bill and Julie said, I definitely am on the introversion scale, but I’m not shy, nor am I quiet. You know, there’s that side of me. But I would say that from early in my career, I recognized that I was more comfortable working within a team with a group of people that I was comfortable with. I worked on a lot of initiatives within a small group and understood that was where I found most of my success, but over time, and in fact also with coaching, getting a coach at one point in time, actually multiple times in my career, I recognized that if I wanted to move forward in my career path, I needed to adopt strategies to move out of my comfort zone. And so I was encouraged to join industry associations, attend conferences, and make time to build my network by identifying opportunities within my industry, and within my cohort that maybe might have been smaller, like networking opportunities, like breakfast roundtables, or cocktails, or thought leadership events, where I could meet people in a smaller setting, and while also learning about a topic, so then taking that and doing something like what Julie said, leaving that event, and then going and having some quiet time and sorting through, like, who I met, what did we talk about? And then what did I learn when I was at the event, so it was kind of a win-win for me.

Drew: A couple of notes, I want to put punctuation points on particularly for aspiring CMOs, you’ve heard this now a couple of times, coaches are really important. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you’ve got blind spots. And it’s important that you be self-aware. And there’s nothing like a good coach to get at that. That’s number one. Number two, you brought up conferences and how that’s something that you had to force yourself to do. And we had a comment earlier from Lisa Kalfus, who is a coach. And what she mentioned is, if you go to a conference in your solo, the icebreaking question is what brings you here today? What brought you here today, and I thought that was great, I thought it was just such a great reminder, I just have to remember that, you need to schedule it into the calendar that says ask this question. So okay, I heard also working with small groups, and applying the listening skills that you have, and are very comfortable with, how do you make sure that you get to decisions? And I ask this because there is that mindset that perfect is the enemy of good enough. And that you can take too long to make a decision. And I’m just wondering if in your career on critical decisions, where you just said, “Okay, I don’t know everything, but I know enough.” And how you’ve managed that.

Lorie: Yeah, I would say that’s exactly it. I think a lot of times we, you know, I’ve gotten better in the companies I’ve worked at over the years to accept progress over perfection. And understand, though, and this is part of me being the introvert side of me, thinking through all the pros and cons, right, but learning how to do it more quickly, and working with a team of people who maybe are more extroverted, or they bring their expertise to the table. And then we can more quickly analyze and identify where we want to move forward and make that decision. So in this world, and I mean, I’ve been in corporate America for 30 years, and we only are moving faster and faster. So bringing a team together or small group together to really think through everything quickly and move forward.

Drew: Progress over perfection. And I love that, as you were talking, a couple of things occurred to me that are somewhat related to this, which is, on the entrepreneurs side. Many entrepreneurs talk about how many times other folks said this won’t work, who had thought it through, this won’t work, and this won’t work. And in fact, I think it was Ted Turner who said the more people told me that this wouldn’t work, the stronger I felt about it. So I think that this notion of introversion is really important if you’re an extrovert to have an introvert on your team. Similarly, I think if you’re an introvert, it’s important to have the opposite. Do you consciously think about that, as you’re building your team, making sure that you have this balance?

Lorie: Yes, absolutely. I’m always looking for the brightest people with the functional expertise I need. But one thing I think about being an introvert is that over time, it’s also helped me really evaluate people not only listen to how they respond to questions when I’m interviewing them, but also look at their communication styles. And then thinking about that and thinking about how they would fit within my team, but also within the company culture. Because you can’t have you know, a full team of just people who are all extroverts or all introverts. You need people who have different skills and bring different ways of thinking to the group, and that only makes the team stronger. So I also think about the fact that talent development is really an ongoing process. So as I build a team, I also think about what are the ongoing ways that I can build time into my calendar to do like Julie said she does more one-on-ones. I’m definitely doing more one-on-ones with people, I want to get to know them and understand them. And I think it just makes the whole team stronger.

Drew: I’m inferring in these one-on-ones a little bit from you and from Julie is, you’re taking your own personal self-awareness, and you’re helping your team members become a little more self-aware. And you can lean into their strengths, but at the same time, they need to know where the blind spots are, right?

Lorie: Indeed, and even more so. I think Julie mentioned this, like being in a virtual environment, the one-on-one time we do and we make the time for, really, the idea of giving not only them ongoing feedback and identifying their blind spots, but also identifying their wins, and where they’ve done a really good job. And unfortunately, or fortunately, like most of the time now, that’s all done on Zoom,

Drew: Or restream, like we are here except were live so I don’t think we’re doing any one-on-ones live. All right. Well, thank you for that. Lorie, we’re going to come back to you and Bill and Julie in a second. But for the moment, I get to solo plug CMO Huddles.

We launched CMO Huddles in 2020, and it’s a close-knit community of over 300 highly effective B2B marketing leaders who share, care, and dare each other to greatness, given the extraordinary time constraints on CMOs these days, and it seems to be getting even tighter. Everything about CMO Huddles is designed to help leaders save time and empower them to make faster, better decisions. If you’re a senior B2B marketer, extroverted or introverted, and need a shortcut to B2B greatness, take a second to sign up for our free starter program at Okay, let’s bring back Julie, Bill, and Lorie. All of you are incredibly busy marketing leaders yet you’re making time for CMO Huddles, and I’m so grateful to you that you do that. Maybe I wonder if you would like to share maybe a specific example of how CMO Huddles has helped you save time, for example, or just inspired you in some way or another. We’ve been

Bill: We’ve been working on a brand revitalization program at our company. And one of the things that’s great, two very specific things. One is the Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, we’ve got this community of practitioners who have been where I am, lot of wisdom to share. So I’ve really enjoyed digging in and understanding from the perspectives of others. And the other, Drew, is you and I have spent one-on-one time, it’s kind of like you can convince yourself, you’re in the right direction but unless you actually have someone who’s sort of out of the picture to kind of load test some of your thinking, I think that value of our one on one time, it’s been very good for our program. So I appreciate it.

Drew: Love it. It’s amazing. So, Julie, you were gonna say something?

Julie: I like to think of CMO Huddles as like my personal board of advisors for Julie Kaplan Inc. I get immediate advice about problems I’m facing today. I also get insight into problems I’m facing tomorrow, so I’m better prepared to deal with them when they occur.

Drew: I love it. Your personal board of advisors. Awesome. Okay, Lorie?

Lorie: I think back to earlier this year, when I first joined, and just having a group of peers to bounce ideas off of or to reach out to with questions or asking them how they may have handled something.  I’m speaking specifically, Drew, when I first joined, and we were relaunching our brand. And you and the community connected me with someone in the community who had been through two or three rebrands and category launches, and just the conversations I was able to have with them were so beneficial to me, and also gave me ideas and views and things to think about going forward in terms of expanding brand identity and awareness. So I think leveraging the network within CMO Huddles has been a huge benefit for me.

Drew: I love it. And I’m thinking about it. It’s funny, because what we got to do is break the ice at the conference that you all want to go to, which is a bunch of CMOs who have that thing. We’re just gonna break that ice for you and do those introductions. So anyway, if you’re a B2B CMO can share care, and dare with the best of them. Do yourself a favor and check out 

Okay. I’m curious now knowing that we’re introverts, you all collectively, are introverts, how you’ve developed specific strategies to ensure that your voice is heard in executive meetings, even if you’re not the loudest one in the room, and we’ll start with Lorie on that.

Lorie: Sure. Some things I do is I come into every executive meeting prepared, I actually take time to prep. I find that writing down just my thoughts on the various topics that will be on the agenda helped me think about what I want to say, so I’m actually more comfortable speaking, I also am comfortable with sitting back and also actively listening. So back to something Bill said about adding more value, like I find, by listening, I may pick up on something and then bring my own perspective as a CMO to the conversation. And just lastly, at Q4, we’re very much a culture of respectful discussion and debate. So in meetings, raise our hands, especially those of us who are on camera virtually, and are not sitting in the room with the rest of the group. So I raise my hand, I am heard,

Drew: I love it. Bill, what about you and in your getting your voice heard in executive meetings?

Bill: I’d say there are probably two things. One is, you’ve got to really be more business-minded than functional-minded when you’re in an executive setting, right. So putting that perspective of what the business is trying to achieve is an absolutely critical part of how you’re going to create value in addition to your functional expertise, but more importantly, kind of your restore to the business. I’d say the other thing, and this is a little bit of my poet, if you can’t disarm with charm, then you know, come armed with the data.

Drew: I love it, we’re gonna have to write some music to that. So I just want to make a just a big punctuation point, because I think this idea is in this framework is bigger than any extrovert, or introvert conversation, which is the CMO that speaks about the business and not about marketing is on their way to being respected as a leader of the organization, not as a marketer. And I just want to put that up there in stone right with Bill’s rhyming scheme. Okay, Julie, how about you?

Julie: So I wonder if we did a word cloud on this session, and we’d find the word prepared and quiet came up a lot. But in preparation for executive meetings, usually, I do a lot of pre-work in the form of one-on-ones and I have discussions to seek understanding. So before I get in the room, I have a good bead on what people are concerned about, what pushback I might get. And I can speak to those topics proactively, much more likely to be heard, even if I say less.

Drew: It’s so much like an introvert to sell before the meeting. Which is such a smart thing to do. The other thing I was thinking about, Julie, that you could do today that you couldn’t have done a year and a half ago, which is you can go into a ChatGPT and say, “Hey, I’m about to have a conversation with our CFO about this, what are the five questions they’re going to ask me.” And even if they’re not exactly the ones there, it will stimulate some thinking. So I love that. Okay, Lorie and I talked a little bit about hiring and mentorship, and so forth. And this feels like an area where it should be a great strength for you all, and you’ve talked about it. And Bill talk about this in terms of how you approach hiring and building a team and building a balanced team.

Bill: You know, you’ve got to really develop a more heterogeneous team that’s both skill-based and personality variable-based, because a lot of what happens with team dynamics are people building upon each other’s strengths, especially if they operate with sort of that fabric of respect sitting behind them. So when we hire, we definitely take a look for what are the right skills, but we’re also trying to figure out what are the right cultural fits that are both company culture values, as well as our team values. And so that’s a critical point of how we actually get, I think, the right hiring done, you’re onboarding people, you’re really helping to mentor them through both understanding what business expects of them and how they can contribute. But you’re also in the background really sort of trying to work on that cultural dynamic, great, how do you kind of get people to really become part of the fabric of the organization and recognize that with respect, and with the ability to work with different styles, you can create a lot of different kinds of wins.

Drew: I did preparation, just like you all talk about for your board meeting. This is a board meeting, if you will, of three CMOs. And the strengths that were listed that sort of consistently came up is being a deep relationship builder, having strong listening skills, calm under pressure. And I’m just curious about that one. I learned through a series of crises to be prepared to see okay, opportunity is knocking. But I had to go through that and kind of panic a number of times before I was able to train myself. It’s like when you go to put a flame out on a candle, you know, you just have to train yourself that if it takes a second it’s not gonna hurt. But I’m curious. Do you feel like as an introvert that calm under pressure, and can you think of a circumstance where that’s actually true for you, Julie, or Lorie?

Julie: I don’t know about you Lorie but I don’t get worked up very easily, at least externally. There’s a lot going on behind the eyeballs. But externally, I think what happens is all the gears working in the brain just sort of jam up the gears that, that make your mouth move. And there’s some advantages to that. And it appears as if you’re calm.

Drew: Turbulence is underneath. But on the surface, you’re calm.

Lorie: I’m exactly the same way. On the surface, I’m very calm. But inside, everything’s churning. And I’m thinking, “Okay, stay cool.”

Julie: And that gives some people… I mean, I’ve had people say to me, “Thank you, because I probably would have freaked out more if you were freaking out too.” People need to see somebody who’s just going to figure it out, even if you don’t know how you’re going to figure it out.

Drew: Right? You’re just not going to show panic.

Julie: You need to be authentic and tell them you’re worried or tell them the emotions you’re having. But that doesn’t need to translate to full-on panic mode.

Drew: “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.” Right, right. Probably not a good idea. But Bill, I mean, do you feel calm under pressure?

Bill: I feel calm most of the time, although I will say I’ve been told I don’t have a poker face. So if I’m in like serious disagreement with something that’s going on, I’ll kind of like, really hold my tongue, but people can see the smoke coming out of my ears. 

Drew: Yeah. I think that’s a little bit different than being calm under pressure. But that is just a tremendous asset, I think because there are times where stuff happens. And if you want to deal with that stuff, you’re going to have to be calm to allow your brain the gears to work and panic sets in and you can’t… Okay, now I’m going to share the list of the top five weaknesses, we’ve covered one, which is less inclined to network. Number two, is the risk of under-communicating. And I thought that’s interesting. Because if you’re not talking as much, in theory, I guess you’re under-communicating. Does that resonate with you at all? And don’t under-communicate your response to this.

Julie: Well, I found that the less I say the smarter I appear. 

Drew: Yeah, okay. That part I get, although it doesn’t apply to me, because I talk so much, but let’s just talk about that risk. You’ve said your piece. And yet the group isn’t sold. So you’re not finished yet. Even though you feel like you are, I’ve just… Again, help me here.

Bill: Actually, I got an example. Like, about seven years ago, when I joined the company that I’m in, I started as an outsider in an organization I was unfamiliar with. And I think my introverted tendencies made me more prone to under-communicate. So I was listening a lot, asking a lot of questions. And I was processing a lot of information and making recommendations in my head that were not coming out. And the thought process behind them was not coming out. So I think people started to invent their own narrative about like, “What is this guy? He’s probably spending a little too much time ruminating.” And people invent their own narrative. So I think that’s like one of those things that you kind of learn through and I’m like, now share what your thinking is. Because A, you don’t want to alienate people. B, you want to get more input. And then I think you want to try to use it as an opportunity to teach and grow skills that other leaders on the team are going to look to you, and developing leaders in particular, for what are ways to think about this that I haven’t thought about. So keeping it all in your head, probably not a good idea. 

Drew: Yeah and again, this is a difference between being a CMO and being a CEO, you know, a CEO could be an introvert and just keep listening and listening and make decisions quietly. And that was sort of in the good to gray, they talked about that sort of invisible hand of the CEO. I think the CMO is a role where you are selling brand, you’re selling some ethereal stuff, you know, in some cases, maybe you have to over-communicate, this is something that you three have to sort of remind yourself of.

Lorie: I would agree with that. 

Drew: Okay. So another interesting thing on the list of potential weaknesses is a reluctance to self-promote. 

Lorie: I would say, for me, I definitely have this reluctance. Over time, I think the work should speak for itself or I am very focused on promoting people on my team and the work they do and when people want to recognize me as the CMO and the leader, I tend to disarm that compliment. That’s my nature.  

Drew: You don’t want to take the credit which is charming. I guess there’s a point where you could be under-selling, if you will, both yourself and potentially the role of marketing. 

Lorie: Completely. And one thing I’ve been working on actually, and even with my team is internally promoting what marketing is doing, we are very active on Slack. But we have not done a great job of promoting the work that we’re doing for our clients and with our brand within the company. So it’s something actually, Drew, I’m working on every day. 

Drew: Julie or Bill in terms of this reluctance to self-promote.

Bill: I think picking up on Lorie’s thread is that separate yourself from the promotion of what’s going on that’s good that marketing is doing and I would say, very proud of my team in particular, we have kind of these things called joint team meetings, they’re two hour monthly, every six weeks or so we’re getting together to hear what’s going on across the company. And they have done an amazing job sort of promoting a lot of the great work we do in terms of our customer stories and very different things that we’re doing to kind of elevate and raise the brand. So it doesn’t so much come down to me, it comes to me enabling or empowering them to kind of go share the good news.

Drew: Right? So you’re aware of the tendency and get your team to do it. And also, by the way, that’s one of the things that we do at CMO Huddles, and of course, just today, we launched our top B2B marketing influencers, because you wouldn’t have done it but we did it and you three are on that list. We also have this show to help you sort of in some ways, get your voice out there and your important voice, even though you would rather give someone else credit for it. And then let’s think about this introversion in connection to the content, the storytelling, the brand messaging at all, knowing yourself and the way you might, your aversion to self-promotion, how do you sort of make sure that doesn’t get in the way of hey, we got to beat the drum for the brand. Julie?

Julie: You know, one of the topics that came up earlier was having different types of people on the team. This is where you tap into their skills and strengths and ask them to shine, the courage, the promotion of the team, encourage promotion internally, encourage it externally, and you tap into those people who love that type of work. So I don’t have to love it, I just have to have someone on the team who does.

Drew: So a couple of things come to mind as we sort of wrap up this conversation is that you may not want praise, you may be embarrassed by praise, but you and your team, you need to remind yourself that your team might need it. And marketing, the department definitely needs it. Marketing is something that everybody in the organization sort of show pride about and demonstrate it, you know, almost going back to their willingness to promote the brand. So it’s a tendency there where you really got to fight it. Okay. We’re at this point in the show where we would say, What would Ben Franklin say? And here’s the funny thing about this, even though he’s one of the most famous and was certainly the most famous American, he would be what is considered an introvert. And interestingly, because he was a guy who hated public speaking, he was a terrible public speaker, you wouldn’t believe, brilliant writer, brilliant thinker, deep thinker, great conversationalist, made deep friends, but not a great public speaker. And that was kind of a disappointment to a lot of folks who had heard about the great Ben Franklin is like he could mumble it in public speaking. So what would he say? “Speak little, do much,” which is kind of what he but he did a lot. So all right, final words of wisdom for other introverted leaders or professionals who aspire to reach leadership positions in the B2B space. And we’ll do this with Lorie first.

Lorie: Okay, I would say, practice and prepare, and really do things out of your comfort zone, it will get easier over time.

Drew: The point about getting out of your comfort zone is important. And again, I don’t think it matters whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, what we’re talking about is being self-aware, so that you do that. An extrovert might want to wing it. Now, there’s very few situations where that’s a good idea. All right, Julie.

Julie: I don’t know if this is specific to introverts, but I would say generally speaking, own who you are, and find a way to make whatever your natural traits are advantageous to you and your team and to your career.

Drew: Thank you for sharing that. Because I know from the little bit of Myers-Briggs work that I’ve done that you could go to any quadrant, and you can find a President of the United States, a leader of an organization, so they just knew how to be their best self and that’s so key. Okay, Bill Strawderman.

Bill: I would just say I think curiosity is an advantage. And as long as you’re curious, not only about the data and some of the facts, right, but the who, you’ve got to challenge yourself to kind of blend both and use that curiosity to drive you forward. I found kind of the whole idea of if you are not willing to develop yourself, you won’t develop. Be curious about that as well.

Drew: And that’s a life gift being curious, right? If you have the ability to ask others and get excited about what they’re sharing, life is never gonna be boring, right? Because you’re gonna keep learning and exploring. So all right, well, with that, hopefully, you all are continuing to be curious. So thank you, Bill, Julie. Lorie, you’re all amazing sports. Thank you, audience for staying with us. To hear more conversations like this one and submit your own questions while we’re live. Join us on the next CMO Huddle Studio. We stream to my LinkedIn profile that’s Drew Neisser, every other week.

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me! This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, Ishar Cuevas, and our B2B podcast partners Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro Voice Over is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about B2B branding, CMO Huddles, or my CMO coaching service, check out I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong!