Wednesday, 01 April 2015 17:04

Winning with people

A Winning Personality: Why Ambiverts Make Great Entrepreneurs by Jason Ankeny | Source:

Steve Ballmer is a maniac. Just days into the new year, the rookie owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers took the internet by storm when he leaped from his courtside seat at Staples Center and began wildly gyrating to the music of halftime performer Fergie—a dance described by media outlets as “whacked out,” “hilariously insane” and “enraged and ecstatic all at the same time.” 

The spectacle was nothing new to anyone who recalls Ballmer’s 14-year tenure as Microsoft CEO: Bill Gates’ handpicked successor was a notoriously towering presence at software developer conferences and industry events, stalking keynote stages like a caged animal—a shouting, sweaty Chris Farley character come to life. 

Ballmer, we can surmise, is an extrovert. Or is he? You don’t take command of one of the world’s most influential companies or rack up a personal net worth of $22.5 billion without deep concentration and focus, keen observational skills and at least some capacity for self-reflection—attributes commonly associated with introverted personalities. 

“There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert,” argued Carl Jung, the pioneering psychologist credited with popularizing the concepts of extroversion and introversion almost a century ago. “Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.”

Public perception notwithstanding, Ballmer is probably an ambivert. The majority of other successful entrepreneurs and corporate leaders are most likely ambiverts as well—and chances are you are, too. Neither fish nor fowl, ambiverts occupy the expansive space between the polar extremes of extroversion and introversion, embodying and adopting key attributes of both psychological archetypes. For example, ambiverts are uniquely equipped to move comfortably between raucous social settings and intense solitude, and while they know how to assert their opinions, they refrain from being aggressive or boorish. 

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