The Career Introvert on Standing Proud as an Introverted Entrepreneur [Interview 15 - Janice]
"It's not what you know, it's who you know."
For many of us introverts setting out to get ahead in life, in our careers, or as entrepreneurs, this fact can feel daunting, and frankly even unfair. We're not always the ones springing for happy hours with our colleagues, and sometimes our preference for solitude can be misconstrued as antisocialness.
But being an introvert doesn't mean we're at a disadvantage in succeeding -- we just have to get to know ourselves, learn how to network and build relationships in ways that work for our personalities, and experiment until we find just the right kind of environments we can thrive in.
This is exactly what Janice Chaka specializes in. Janice is a traveling entrepreneur who uses introversion as her biggest superpower. She has seen the ins and outs of corporate life as an HR consultant and has changed careers successfully multiple times. She's trailblazed her entrepreneurial path by helping introverted women flourish in every aspect of their lives, coaching them on achieving their personal version of success, even if they struggle to make changes or believe success is reserved for extroverts only.
In workshops Janice leads around the world, and on her website The Career Introvert, she provides detailed how tos on topics like Assertiveness and Networking, where she shares her top secrets on getting what you want, specifically for introverts.
I talked to Janice about entrepreneurship, how she tapped into her introversion to create her ideal career, and what her top tips are for living out one's purpose:
KW: If you had 1 minute to tell your story -- what led you to this point and where you're headed from here -- how would you tell it?
JC: I went ahead and timed myself talking for a minute (which was hard) about my story and this is what I said:
I worked for a company that appreciated a degree more than experience. Although I had more experience than my managers, I could never get a promotion. I instead worked in different departments and learned more about the business. I never went to the office parties and didn’t go on vacation with the team. It took me four years to realize I wasn’t a good fit culturally for the company.
I got a chance to work from home and I took it. I was more efficient at home, but I did not have enough work to keep me occupied. I looked for other work and ended up leaving the company for a freelancer contract. While working on the new contract, as a side project, I traveled the world teaching workshops on introversion and other topics.
After 5 years the contract had sucked me dry. I needed new challenges, so I started side projects, courses and testing different things. I worked with charities, start-ups and small businesses. The work that makes me happiest is helping to change people’s lives and my mission this year is to talk to at least 2,000 people about introversion, and to make the Cambridge dictionary change its definition of Introvert.
What's the single most important mindset shift you had to make in order to make a living as a full-time, traveling entrepreneur?
There is no one thing more important than another as it is a process. But some of the main ones have been: don’t worry about what other people are doing, don’t be afraid to get rid of clients who are a bad fit, enjoy the process, and charge what you are worth.
What's the most challenging thing you experience (and/or have overcome) since going all in on your passion?
People have a lot of misconceptions about introversion and about the nomadic lifestyle. Unless you win the lottery or have a rich uncle, you are going to have to work for your success. You are your business, invest in yourself and then you can work on other things. I didn’t realize until my thirties that I was an introvert. If I had known earlier there are things I would have changed. Because of this my mission is to educate as many people as I can about introversion and celebrate it!
Since discovering your purpose, what has it rewarded you with?
More people are learning the positive side of introversion, which leads to a greater understanding in general. I then get more people coming out of the woodwork and wanting to learn to how stand proud in their introversion. This way I get to work with people who want to find balance and then I get to see and hear their success stories.
What's your MVT (most valuable tip) you'd offer budding, purpose-based entrepreneurs who want to grow their online business?
Play the long game. A good business takes time to build. You might hear about six figure launches but what you don’t hear about is the 5 years it took to perfect the processes to get them there. Focus on what you can do. Break things down into small steps and celebrate what you have done -- not what you didn’t do. You will be surprised at what a difference this will make to your mindset and overall well-being.