The Genius of Opposites: Extroverts and Introverts

Genius of Opposites

How Introverts and Extroverts Achieve Extraordinary Results Together


  • “I don’t understand extroverts. She is so out there.”
  • “I don’t know what he is thinking. What is bothering him?”
  • “How do I break through to her?”
  • “Was that a conclusion or is he thinking out loud?”


As an extrovert married to an introvert, I have long been interested in what makes an effective partnership between very different people.  I’ve learned that I’m far from alone and that many successful duos are two people with different styles and approaches. Whether a married couple or a business partnership, it is possible to adapt and develop a winning partnership. Learning to leverage each other’s strengths and capitalize on your differences can improve your results.

Author and speaker Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, PhD is known as the “champion for introverts.” I recently talked with her about her research and her new book, The Genius of Opposites: How Introverts and Extroverts Achieve Extraordinary Results Together.  She has developed a system designed to help opposites stop emphasizing the differences and instead drive toward results.


“Relationships are most successful when opposites stop focusing on differences.” -Dr Kahnweiler


Famous Opposites

Would you share a few examples of famous opposites?

Sure, there are many. The Wright Brothers, Venus and Serena Williams, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Penn and Teller, Siskel and Ebert, Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.


Sticking Points

What most bothers introverts about extroverts and vice versa?

There are a lot of disconnects on both sides. Introverts think extroverts are changing their minds and don’t have clear thinking when they toss out ideas. But they are just releasing their energy, and they get charged up that way. They are just downloading ideas.

Introverts also wonder why extroverts need so much going on. They think extroverts don’t have enough self-discipline to just be there and get work done. Introverts judge that a lot. But extroverts like more stimulation, and the juggling makes them energized and engaged. They get their work done, just in spurts.Jennifer Kahnweiler headshot

Other misfirings in their wiring? Being private (introverts) vs. being an open book (extroverts) causes challenges. Introverts want to get to know you slowly and warm up to you. Extroverts feel excluded when introverts don’t share and get tired of pulling answers out of introverts who don’t offer much info during conversations.

Introverts crave quiet time for recharging, creativity and decompression and are frustrated when extroverts don’t let them have it. Like a teenage boy, my introverted husband Bill keeps a sign on the door that says, “Do Not Disturb.” He means it, too!


A Model for Bringing Us Together

Opposites can form a strong partnership if they follow your ABCDE model. How did you develop this approach? Is one part more difficult for an extrovert or introvert?

I interviewed over 40 sets of opposite partners and key themes emerged. I asked them to explore the successes and struggles they had in working with their opposite partner. Because they spoke with me or wrote me separately, some unique perspectives emerged. I also read about figures from sports, entertainment and science. I learned that the success factors crossed over fields and roles.

I think the challenges we face in opposite pairings are equally difficult for introverts and extroverts. And if we are honest about it, we each drive each other crazy from time to time!

Extraordinary Results

“Genius opposites do not just ‘happen’.” -Jennifer Kahnweiler


How Opposites React to Stress

How do opposites react to major stress?

Quotes and Leadership Lessons from Joel Osteen

Qualities of A Winner

You Can, You Will: 8 Undeniable Qualities of a Winner is the latest book by Joel Osteen. Fans of Joel Osteen’s positive message will enjoy the stories throughout the book of inspiration and encouragement.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to talk with Joel, who is the pastor of Lakewood, the largest church in the U.S. He’s immediately recognizable from his television ministry, bestselling books and stadium appearances. Not too long ago, I noticed he has his own SiriusXM station.

My Mistakes

9781455575718As I look back on my earliest interviews for this website, I laugh. My first three in-person interviews included Pastor Joel Osteen, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and writer and producer John Carter Cash, the son of Johnny and June Carter Cash.

Let me be frank: I didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t a professional interviewer. My colleague, Drew Bordas, had vast video and audio experience.  At that point, I think his total experience was that he occasionally videotaped his kids at home. Looking at this interview, I am thankful that Joel was so kind, so encouraging, and so forgiving to allow us to stumble through it. What makes it more remarkable is if you know Joel Osteen’s backstory. Joel is a true pro when it comes to production. Before he stepped up to minister after his father passed away, he worked behind the scenes and became a video and audio expert.

Here are some lessons I learned from that visit.


6 Leadership Lessons


1. Don’t condemn and judge others.

He says it, but my visit proves he lives it, too.

How often we waste time condemning, criticizing and complaining.  It wastes time, drains energy, and is counterproductive.


2. Encourage others.

Not only was he unaffected by his platform and position, humbly spending time with us, but he also was incredibly encouraging. He frequently quotes Proverbs 15:4:  “A gentle tongue brings healing.”

Organizations thrive when individuals are recognized and encouraged.

“A gentle tongue brings healing.” -Prov. 15:4


3. Find your life purpose.

Whatever you do, you want it to be in line with your life purpose. Observing Joel, I can see that he knows his own gifts and his purpose.  He focuses his energy and talent on it.  He genuinely wants everyone to have a blessed life, and he believes in the positive nature of people.

An organization with a unifying purpose will galvanize everyone to achieve.


4. Choose happiness.

As he says, “Whatever challenges you may face, whatever circumstances are weighing you down, you can choose your response.  How you live your life is totally up to you.”  His books are full of strategies on how to live a happier, more abundant life.


5.  Know what to ignore.

Greatness and the Great Pumpkin


Creating Greatness

Every year there are giant pumpkin contests where a fierce competition ensues to show who has grown the biggest fruit.  Only a few months ago, the new world record was set at 2,032 pounds.  My wife enjoys baking pumpkin bread, and I cannot imagine how many loaves that monster pumpkin would help create.

In reading about the creation of these giant pumpkins, I noticed that the growers credit good seed, good soil, and good luck.

You cannot grow a champion pumpkin without the right seed.  The little seeds are specifically developed to yield amazingly large pumpkins.


“Spend the majority of your time developing your own unique gifts.” -Skip Prichard


In addition to the seeds, you must have the right soil.  Scientists study the soil of the winners, developing hypotheses about everything from the correct pH balance to how much potassium and other minerals are needed.

The luck part is less predictable, but the weather is important.  Lots of sun is important, moderate rain and protection from extensive wind or too much heat.

Reading about these gargantuan pumpkins, I thought about achieving results.  It’s the special mixture of seed, soil, and weather (luck) that makes it possible to create great things.



Like the pumpkins, we need to start with the right seed.  If you want to create great results, it starts here.  Your ideas, your talents, and your abilities are where it all starts.  The right seed is a mixture of discipline and innate talent.  Much of our lives is spent investing in our education and skill in order to develop the best seed.

If you feel like you didn’t spend enough time creating the right seed, here is the good news:  you can start today.  No matter your age or present circumstances, you can begin the journey of personal development today.

Spend the majority of your time developing your own unique gifts.


“The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.” -Harry Golden



The 3 Most Limiting Words

Young Woman Behind The Bars


“That’s just me.”

She said it definitively in that way people dismiss a question.  Tossing her hair with a quick flip, she signaled to the small group that there would be no discussion.

I’m not much of an eavesdropper.  I normally am absorbed in my own work.  But I was sitting in this little café only a few feet away.

I think it was her manager who sat down at the table, motioning to her to sit down.  The discussion was about customer complaints and her abrupt communication style.  Customers felt that she was dismissive and perhaps slightly arrogant.  At the same time, she received high marks for her product knowledge.

“That’s just me,” she said again, before flatly adding, “I get frustrated and impatient.  But I do know what to do.”

That’s Just Me.

For a moment, I bought it.  After all, you can’t really fight it if that is really who you are.

But then I stopped myself as I thought about those words.

Instead of thinking about ways to grow, she had unknowingly slammed the door shut, imprisoning herself in a world much smaller than only a few moments ago.

One of the greatest attributes of people is the ability to grow, to change, to develop.  Who I was five years ago is not who I am today.  That incredible quality, the ability to change who we are defies those three words.


Only you have the power to determine whether your future mimics your past. -Skip Prichard


Change the Words = Change the Future

Personal responsibility demands more.  Three better words than, “That’s just me,” are, “I can change.”  And where does the power to change begin?  In the mind.

You can determine whether you are the same tomorrow as you are today.

You can decide whether you want to have a future that mimics the present.

I didn’t interrupt or listen to more of the conversation.  I slipped away, but with a lesson.

We are all wired certain ways.  We cannot change everything about ourselves.  But we do have more power than we think to mold the future.

I may not have said those three words that day, but often I have limited myself in the same way.  Instead of shifting blame to others or outside circumstances, how can I take more responsibility for the future and make it happen?


“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” -Mother Teresa


“The future depends on what you do today.” -Gandhi


“The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.” Mary Pickford






Move TO your future not AWAY from your past


Photo by Fellowship of the Rich on flickr.

People seem to be motivated by one of two forces.  Either toward or against.

Both can be equally powerful motivators, but one seems to last.

Why are you in motion?

When I interview people for a job, I often ask questions about how the individual made career decisions.  Some job changes were motivated by moving AWAY from something—a bad boss, a negative work environment, low pay.  Other people make a change to move TOWARD something—a new opportunity, the ability to make a bigger impact, a better use of talent.

Though it’s not scientific validation, I’ve found that the people moving TOWARD the new opportunity are more successful, happier, and continue on an upward career path.  These people are energized by the future, by what’s to come, by what’s possible.

Contrast that with the people moving AWAY from a job.  It seems that the very same things that they didn’t like about the one job magically seemed to follow them to the next!

Moving TOWARD is more powerful than moving AWAY.