EP106: Beth Buelow – How Introverts Can Flourish In Today's World

Understanding and appreciating what it means to be an introvert in an extrovert-leaning world is hard to do.

But, our returning guest, Beth Buelow has mastered it.She helps introverted entrepreneurs amplify their strengths and build sustainable energetically aligned businesses.

She is also a professional coach, podcaster, speaker and author of The Introvert Entrepreneur - Amplify Your Strengths & Create Success On Your Own Terms.

During this interview, you'll discover...

  • How to create empowered, productive environments where introverts can flourish

  • How to provide services for introverts and those who live and work with them

  • Information and inspiration on professional introverts

To learn more about Beth Buelow, visit here.

For her blog, The Introvert Entrepreneur, click here.

For her Twitter page, go here.

For her LinkedIn page, discover here

To get a copy of her book, click this link.


Michael Palmer: 01:09 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a great one. Our guest is making a return appearance to the show. She helps introverted entrepreneurs amplify their strengths and build sustainable, energetically aligned businesses. She is a professional coach, author, podcast or end speaker and is based in the Pacific Northwest and serves introverts are across the globe. She's also the author of the introvert entrepreneur. Amplify your strengths and create success on your own terms. Beth Buelow, welcome back to the podcast. Beth Buelow: 01:45 Thank you so much, Michael. And you know, I noticed I was looking back and I was on your ninth podcast episode, which feels like so long ago. And now your way around. Episode a hundred or so.

MP: 01:58 We're up to the hundreds. Yes. It's now early hundred graduations. Thank you. It's been an amazing journey.

BB: 02:06 Yeah. Well, and speaking of journeys, I realized as you shared that intro that I've moved since we last spoke. Oh my goodness. Where are you now living? I'm now in Michigan, so I'm in the, the American heartland, the Midwest. And uh, we moved here in January, which I never suggest moving to the Midwest in January, but um, but that's what we did. So we've been here a little over six months and our, um, very much enjoying our, our new, our new home.

MP: 02:35 Beautiful. What prompted the move?

BB: 02:45 My husband's work. He's a, yeah, he's an orchestra executive and, and that's the kind of career where often, you know, depending on the size of the town, if you're looking for a new position or a new challenge you're under, you're going to end up moving, um, most of the times. So, um, so that's just been sort of part of the Gig and we've, um, wanting to get back to Michigan and specifically western Michigan for years. Um, we loved, loved, loved our time in the Pacific Northwest and I, I do miss it. Um, and we have roots and connections and friends here in western Michigan that we are, I'm really delighted to be back, um, on our old stomping grounds.

MP: 03:20 Beautiful. Well, congratulations to your husband and too to the family for moving out that way and getting back to your roots. Yeah. Thank you. That's great. Now I know back on episode nine, a, we talk about your backstory and who you are, but maybe just for our listeners to get a little bit of a catch up that the ones that haven't had a chance to listen to. Episode nine is to tell a little bit about yourself and your expertise.

BB: 03:48 Yeah, well, I am, uh, I'm a professional certified coach and as you mentioned, I specialize in working with introvert entrepreneurs at the moment. And I'm an introvert myself. I discovered this back when I was in graduate school using Yahoo back when it was, uh, like one of the only search engines. And I'm looking for personality tests cause I was procrastinating. I'm working on a paper, you know, came across in a version of the Myers Briggs online. And it was the first time I put together my personality with a word that explained it so well. And that was of course introvert. I had, I think I had also like many people then and now had a perception that introversion meant that I was shy or socially awkward when really the gift that came out of that experience of doing that assessment, um, was that it, it simply needs, it's about where you gain and drain your energy.

BB: 04:45 And so once I understood that I was better able to, you know, of course, understand myself and how I respond in different situations. And how I can use my strengths. And when I, you know, I then was working on a career in Arts Administration and nonprofit management, which I pursued for a little over a decade, um, before making the transition into coaching. And when I started coaching, I started noticing I'm attracting a lot of introverts. This is really interesting. And at the same time I didn't know what my target market was. And so it took me a little bit of time to make the, you know, connect those two dots. But once I did, um, it was a really powerful tipping point for me and my business because I had that clarity of message and was reaching out to an audience that I, of course, felt personally identified with. I felt I could speak that language and I felt that, um, introverts can be the underdogs and I've always had a place in my heart for the underdog. So it all just Kinda came together. And, and so I've been focusing on that for the past eight years and I'm like you said, published a book back in 2015 and I'm grateful all the time for having had this opportunity to spread this word and to, to create what I call introvert pride of ownership. Um, so that introversion is something that you can embrace as opposed to apologize for.

MP: 06:14 That's great. A pride of ownership. Yes. I liked the angle on that. Uh, just in terms of, you know, it makes it, it makes jumps right out at being more positive and too, you know, just as you were speaking, my thought is, you know, it's just interesting that we often go about our life doing the things we do. We forget to, to be introspective, to look at, well, what are our strengths? Who are we, what, what are we, what are we typically like? Not only is that powerful for ourselves, but also understanding it from, you know, the opposite side of the table. Knowing how we interact with others and others interact with us and the different personality types. It can be very enlightening really around going on, uh, the business of doing business and life. What do you see as being some of the biggest challenges or mistakes that you see introverted entrepreneurs making when they, they meet New People?

BB: 07:09 Yeah. Um, and when you say New People, I think, I think most, well, new people, yes. It's always the, there's always a little bit of a, um, there's a story that introverts tell themselves about meeting new people and it's often hearkens back to even if they understand it's about energy, they can go to that place of it's exhausting. You know, we make the mistake of making up those stories and believing them that, oh, it's exhausting to meet new people that I'm, I'm not good with people. I won't know what to say. Um, I'm not that into, you know, I don't have an interesting story. There are all sorts of, um, uh, you know, these layers that we can put on ourselves, these burdens that we put on ourselves, that, that get in the way of us just connecting with people. And when I'm working with clients often when they're talking about meeting new people, that's sort of code for I'm meeting with prospects or people that I want to do business with.

BB: 08:05 And well, what I've noticed isn't the exclusive domain of introverts. There are a few themes that I've noticed and first is that they see the person as a prospect instead of as a person. And that's especially like even networking, right? Um, we, we think when we're walking into a room to network that it's like, oh, I have to, I have to be prospecting, I have to be looking for where's the potential sale? And that can cause a lot of anxiety because we, we move very quickly from, it's just a person too. I have to sell to them. So that's one thing that gets in our way and another is that we don't, we don't, sometimes introverts like to be prepared, right? We, we tend to like to do our research and know who we're talking about, know or know who we're talking to and what we're talking about.

BB: 08:50 And we tend to forget to, and this is going to sound really, but it does add to our anxiety. We forget to practice that preparation out loud. We can think and think and think about what am I going to say? Who do I want to talk to? 'Em what's my value proposition? But then we forget to practice that out loud, you know, to try it on for size and see how it flows. Um, we, we think about it so vividly in our heads that we think we've spoken it when we have it. So like I said, you know, that might seem like, well Duh, of course you know, we need to say it out loud, but I think we forget to practice it and say it out loud when we're by ourselves when we can just sort of do a little practicing and dress rehearsal so that when we get into those situations where we might be feeling a little bit tongue tied around new people, it flows a little bit more easily. We have the words a little bit more quickly because we've, we not only have them in our minds, but we have them in our ears. So those are, you know, a couple of the things that, that have come up. And then the other thing is, you know, being clear on your value, um, especially as a business person and an entrepreneur, um, you know, trusting your value enough to know what your service or your product is worth so that, that how much does it cost? Part of the conversation isn't quite so awkward.

MP: 10:12 Hmm. I like that. Spend more time looking and thinking about the value that you produce for somebody and it almost erases the whole thought patterns around, Gee, this is expensive. Or you know, worrying about whether they can afford it or whether they'll pay for it. All of that noise is just noise and thoughts. You're replacing that space with thoughts about how valuable you are.

BB: 10:36 Yeah, yeah. When you're coming across with that kind of confidence, you're also not attached to their answer. You're open to whether they say yes or no. And you know that a no isn't a reflection of your value. It's a reflection of something else that's not a good fit. And when you can release that pressure then that lets off some of the anxiety as well.

MP: 10:57 When you're working with people, does it, does it take, how much time does it take typically? What have you seen when, you know, the, you give them these exercises and they take them on, how does that look and how does it typically go?

BB: 11:13 Well, usually they're coming, if you know, say it's a coaching client, they're coming to a session with a very specific challenge that opens up the bigger conversation. Like for instance, I had one client who happens to be a sales coach and a sales trainer and he was, um, he's been doing it for about six months and he was talking about, um, offering some workshops and some seminars. And I ask him how much he was planning to charge. And when he told me, I, you know, I was like, um, okay we need to look at this. And, and so we were able to kind of, you know, take a look at what it was. You know, what the challenge was. And this is a point that I learned early on that I like sharing, which is when you're thinking about how long you've been doing something, it's not just how long you've been offering whatever that service is to people.

BB: 12:08 It's the culmination of all of your experiences. So when I asked this client, how long have you been in sales? And he said, 30 years. Well, okay, 30 years counts. It's not just about six months, it's about 30 years. So I'm, I'm sort of roundabout answering your question in that people will come often with that particular scenario, but then that opens it up and we can have subsequent conversations over time about, okay, so if your count, if you're taking that into consideration, what does that, how does that impact your coaching services? How does that impact your, you know, any direct service that you provide? How does it impact your consulting? Um, so it might unfold over a little bit of time, but sometimes it's just that, you know, one little catalyst of a situation that forces the question for us to talk about something like value. And then we're able to, you know, have that as sort of an ongoing theme. But oftentimes sometimes it's just like a glow, like a snap to, you know, a tipping point of awareness that says, oh yeah, that's right. And then they're able to apply it to other things.

MP: 13:15 You know, it's, I love this train of conversation or train of thought. It is that I think with our audience, they, they, their job technically is to make sure that everything is, is black and white. You know, it's like this happened, this didn't happen, this should go here. You know, these expenses need to be categorized as these things. It's not about, you know, an art form, paint, throwing paint up on the wall and figuring out, you know, where it's all going to go and who cares? It's very, very specific. It's very detailed and it needs to get done correctly. Now, I think when I've noticed when I'd asked new, new, new people that I meet that are our bookkeepers, you know, well how long have you been at it? They give me exactly the amount of time that they've been running their own business or, or bookkeeping as their own business, where in reality most of them come with all of these different life experiences that all make up a bit of what it is that they do in their current roles.

MP: 14:16 A bookkeeper, I mean it's like if you, if you were in a management position for 20 years and then you decided you wanted to take up bookkeeping that 20 years counts and incredible amount next to your comp competitor that may have none of those experiences. So, but yet that's what they lead with. And, and, and so when you're meeting, so I was like, well, how long have you been doing this? Well, I just started now it's not, and there's going to be a resistance to say anything but that because they don't want, they want to be black and white, transparent. Sure, sure. But yet, coming from a sales perspective, a marketing, it's about appreciating those other attributes that, uh, that leave the, the prospect prospective client and a positive frame that you're the person that is best suited to solve my problems. And so there's this dilemma of being black and white, but as well ha putting the right angle on it that it actually sits well and in a positive light and positions that person as the one that can solve the problems. What are your thoughts around that and how to best uh, arm everyone with, with the, what they need to do a great job of this and B and, and feel that they're being black and white.

BB: 15:32 Yeah, that is such a great point, Michael. Thank you. Um, you're right because there's numbers don't lie, right. And, um, they don't fudge and there's not necessarily, I'm assuming, you know, there's not a lot of nuance there. It is what it is. Um, and we can't necessarily apply that same principle to the way we talk about ourselves and position ourselves. And what you say, Michael is so important about, I'm mining our back experiences because what that does, if you don't take those things into account, then you're missing an opportunity to differentiate yourself. You know, for instance, in my background I've had to get over this, you know, I feel self conscious because somebody will say, well what did you study in school? Or what's your background? And I feel like I should be able to say it's psychology or social work or you know, some other sort of profession that seems like a natural lead in to coaching.

BB: 16:25 But when I say I have music performance degrees, Huh, well how does that fit? You know? Well it fits because you know, during the time that I was doing that, I learned how to be in front of an audience. I learned about discipline, I learned about collaboration. I learned about working on something to reach a point of excellence. Um, you know, so all of those things are critical to informing who I am as an introvert, as an entrepreneur, as, as a person. And by being able to include that in my experiences, that deepens and enriches the story of who I am. It helps somebody to connect with me on a different level and it differentiates me from other coaches and consultants that are out there in different ways. The key is like claiming that story, recognizing and saying, okay, yes, that experience might be really different, but what was valuable about it? What can I carry forward that helps my story stand out from every other bookkeeper who can use the same software, crunch the same numbers, you know, identify the same categories. Why me and your story and your experience is part of how you can help to answer that question of, you know, why me?

MP: 17:51 Totally agree. It's so valuable. Our life experiences are our story prior to what we're doing is so, so valuable. What, what, what are your thoughts around extrapolating that from and knowing what's, what's the good stuff versus the irrelevant stuff? You know, any thoughts around that?

BB: 18:11 I think it would be around doing something that introverts love to do, which [inaudible] are, tend to be good at, which is that introspection and reflection. So that's where, where I would start. And even, you know, I've been known to pull out my resume because I'm like, I don't remember what, you know. Exactly. Um, you know, I need a refresher on what were the things that I thought at some point work important enough to pull out on my resume and highlight. So I'll pull that out and I'll, you know, think back and say, okay, when I was at that position, you know, what did I learn? What was, what were some challenges that I overcame? Um, how did I grow? How was I different from the time I started that job till the time I ended that job? And how did that inform who I am?

BB: 18:51 So using something as basic and simple as a resume to help trigger reflection points and to ask yourself the questions that I just toes can help you start to identify the pieces that you want to pull out. And you know, there are probably some lessons that, like you said, you know, you that aren't necessarily relevant that you can leave by the wayside. More important though is to like, you know, pull out those ones that you feel like, oh, this is, this is a story that nobody else can tell or this is an experience that nobody else can talk about and apply to this work the way I can in. So when you're, you're making that pitch, it's, you know, again, software, you know, numbers, categories, all those sorts of things, all things being equal across, you know, multiple people. It's really those stories that differentiate them.

BB: 19:45 So it's worth the time to do that. The other thing is you can ask current clients, you know, what, what do you appreciate about working with me or what, you know, you've worked with other bookkeepers before. How am I different? Ask family, ask friends, you know, just do a little bit of informal surveying about it and just, you know, gather some information and, and trust what you hear. Because often, you know, what we hear is not necessarily what we think is true, but often people see things that we don't. And, and I'm mainly talking about, you know, our strengths. We have to take those in and hear them and say, Oh yeah, well, you know, maybe I am really good at x, Y andZ or really have a good way with people or I'm really know how to listen. Those are all positive points that can be, um, used and leveraged, um, in the way that you positioned yourself to clients.

MP: 20:34 I love that. And surveying and collecting data, such a great way to, to shift one's view of themselves and, and find what's valuable. So talked a little bit about meeting people, New People, meeting prospective clients. What about in the sales, you know, an actual sales cycle that's occurring and it's a sales opportunity. Is there a difference do you find with your clients that are introverted, you know, there's asking for the business, there's, you know, asking questions. What do you see there for introverts and how, how they get challenged with that stage of, of business.

BB: 21:15 I think there are a number of things that can happen. One is this feeling that sales is an icky activity and then we don't want to do it. We want to accelerate it, we want it to, you know, get it over with. We take it very personally and, and as I'm saying these things, it's not that they're not, you know, sometimes I'm sure true for extroverts as well. I think, I think I'm identifying some universal human emotions, but introverts can internalize these things to, to some extent and they can become these barriers that, that keep them from moving forward. And you know, one thing to notice is if you're coming from scarcity, like if you feel like this is a do or die situation, one thing that helps is, and I think I said this before, to go into the conversation, open to either a yes or a no.

BB: 22:02 And that means yes or no from your prospect and it means yes or no from you. So that's part of it too, is to remember that it's a mutual agreement. You both have to agree to say yes to the relationship. And so if you're sincerely hoping to work with someone, you know, say it, but don't sound desperate, you know, you can say something like, I'd really enjoyed this conversation and I think we'd be a good fit. Um, it'd be a pleasure to work with you if you want to keep exploring what that would look like and have a know ready as well. For instance, I, and I think I've used this, um, based on what we've discussed, I'm not confident that my services would be a good match for your needs. Um, I really want to help you find a great fit. So would it be okay if I offered you a few recommendations of trusted colleagues to check out? So that one, you know, it's, even if the lack of the fit is about them, not you, it's still works because it makes it about the client's needs and not yours. So that's, that's one, you know, way to help alleviate some of that anxiety and some of those barriers when you're going into these situations is to kind of hold it more lightly, you know, take it seriously, but not too seriously. Um, you know, be prepared but not over repaired. Think about it. But don't overthink, you know, there's always those flip sides of the coin.

MP: 23:23 I totally agree. I'm really curious about you just overall your, your clients that you're working with, introvert, you know, what, what is the main thing that they're coming to work with you on? Is it, is it around confidence or selling or, you know, leading people? What do you find?

BB: 23:45 Often the thing that brings them in the very early stages is just getting clear on what it is they want to offer to people. I think the introvert entrepreneur is somebody who is often really super creative, has lots of ideas. It feels like I could go in all sorts of different directions. I've got all these different things that I want to offer and I recognize that in order for me to be sustainable, I have to focus. Um, I can't spread my energy out over too many things, too many offerings, too many people, too many audiences. And so one of the priorities that often arises pretty quickly in our working relationship is how do I prioritize amongst all of these different ideas? How do I determine the ones that are going to both respond to a need in the marketplace as well as fulfill an expertise that I have that will be satisfying for me as well.

BB: 24:37 So it's often, uh, a winnowing down, you know, a bit of spring cleaning of all of the ideas that they've had. And then once they have that, it's, you know, how can we position it? You know, how do I use social media? That's another big one because I think introverts, they understand the power that social media has, not just, you know, objectively because it reaches a lot of people. But because for them it's a very energy-efficient way to meet a lot of people. Um, and to get their message out. It's somewhat levels the playing field, even, even though it's very noisy, we all have access to it. So often that's where the conversation will start to pivot is, okay, so now I know here are the three things I'm offering. Here's who I'm offering it to now, how do I do that in the most effective and efficient way?

BB: 25:21 And then all the conversations that come with that. So those are often, you know, some of the topics. And then, of course, we get into the stories that we have about, you know, who we are as entrepreneurs, what it means to do sales, um, what it means to promote myself. Any fears around that. And then there's also just the, that whole sustainability. How do I make sure that I'm creating, I'm not creating a monster. You know, I want to create something that is satisfying and successful and profitable and I want to make sure I'm doing it very intentionally because I also value my alone time. I value my privacy. I need, I, I don't like the word balance, but I somehow need to have, you know, whatever balance means to me in my life so that I don't burn out.

MP: 26:08 Um, from, from our audience perspective, I think that everyone listening would, would, would resonate with that. Right? It's often there is this conversation of the wheel that just keeps turning of work. And there's so many different avenues that they can take from marketing, what to learn, the change changes in the industry. So I think prioritization is really a critical conversation. It's like what is the most important piece? And then narrowing down to, okay, this is what I'm going to do. What are the barriers that are in my to getting there?

BB: 26:44 Yeah. Yeah. What are the gaps? And you recognize you're not, again, this is why it's important to be clear on your audience that you're not going to have to necessarily need to catch up and learn and know everything. You know, every single trend, every single piece of software, every single platform. You know, if you're able to focus, you can focus your energy and attention on learning as much as you can, as deeply as you can about that particular target as opposed to, again, you know, feeling like you have to be all things to all people and therefore you have to know everything. That's exhausting.

MP: 27:21 Yes, absolutely.

MP: 27:30 You mentioned energy efficient. Tell talk a little bit more about energy-efficient and it when it was in roots guard to social media.

BB: 27:40 Yeah. You know, like I said in the very beginning when I learned that introversion had to do with energy and not necessarily social capacity in our social capability, it was really eye-opening. Introverts will gain energy in solitude and we drain it during social interaction. So being energy efficient is largely about recognizing your own personal capacity and ratios. In order for me to be energy efficient, I. E. Sustainable, I need to be able to know what do I need in terms of interaction, time and downtime. I've sort of figured out that my magic formula is I need about three hours of, you know, solo work or downtime for every one hour of social interaction that I have. And so, and usually I'm defining social interaction as something that's, you know, pretty, pretty. Um, putting myself out there like going to a networking event or going to a conference or a peer event or you know, something where it's, um, or a speaking engagement.

BB: 28:43 Um, something that really requires a lot of energy. And in order to balance that out, I need to make sure that I'm being very intentional about working in that, that downtime. And, and one way you can do it is to look at your calendar and your blocks of time, whether it's spending time with clients or planning or catch up or Administrivia or uh, you know, social media instead of looking at it in terms of time, look at it in terms of energy segments. So, you know, for me one hour of time is, you know, two hours of energy. And if I look at it that way, I'm not going to be as tempted, you know, cause I can look at my calendar and I can say, oh look, I have eight solid, I have eight hours today that have the potential to be filled with stuff.

BB: 29:31 So I could do, you know, eight back to back, 45-minute clients if I wanted to. Well, that's not going to be energy efficient because by the time I probably get to about client, I'm my capacity to listen and be present and to be effective is going to be severely diminished. So I need to look at that calendar in energy blocks and say, okay, so energetically over an eight hour period, I can probably do two to three clients and I need to make sure I have this much time in between them so that I'm able to recharge or I need to bunch them up so that I get it all over with in one and then have a large block of time afterward. So some of that is, you know, giving yourself permission to do some trial and error and figure out what is most efficient and effective for you. You know, what are your patterns? Would you rather go, go, go all day and then have two days off, you know, or two days just working in the office on paperwork or, or doing social media. Um, you know, it took me a few years to figure out my pattern. And so to give yourself space to do that and, and again, you know, look at your calendar in terms of energy instead of time and see how that might impact how you schedule your days.

MP: 30:42 I love that. I can remember that from episode nine and I think it's just, just such an interesting way to think about it. You know, we have so much energy in the tank and we're either filling it up or we're taking it out and it's like don't often think of it that way. I don't anyways. And I think it's a refreshing way to look at it. It's like, oh, why am I feeling tired while I'm doing things that are emptying the tank? I haven't put anything in the tank. Right. So yeah, I just loved that you know about, that's always refreshing to speak with you. I know our audiences just loved listening to the episode. We had lots of feedback and I think it resonates because many would be more introverted likely than the opposite side. What's the best way for them to learn more about you? If this is the first time that they're listening to you, would you recommend?

BB: 31:29 Um, I recommend visiting my website. So it's the introvert, entrepreneur.com and there you will find, you know my podcast episodes and you can also find it on iTunes and subscribe there as well as find links to you know, other places where I've written and appeared and offer advice just like this. And you can find out more information about the coaching and speaking services that I offer. So that's probably the best place to start cause that's the portal to everything else. And of course, I'm like you mentioned my book is called the introvert entrepreneur and you can find that on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and anywhere fine books are sold.

MP: 32:07 Beautiful. Well Beth, thank you. On behalf of all of our listeners, thank you for your generosity of your time to come and share your expertise with us. You're welcome.

BB: 32:18 Great pleasure, Michael. Thank you so much for having me back again and best wishes to all of your listeners.

MP: 32:23 Awesome. Thank you. And that wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guest and they get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources, you can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye.