Not all successful business figures are extroverted; many top business moguls are known for being reserved, introverted or shy. Successful shy business leaders are generally hard-working, connected with their employees, and command a unique form of respect. Here is a list of some well-known shy business figures.
1. Bill Gates
Bill Gates is the co-founder of Microsoft. After dropping out of Harvard law school, Gates went on to form the successful software company along with friend Paul Allen. Although he has been described as cool and distant, some call him shy. His parents remember him being vulnerable as a young boy:
“He was so small and shy, in need of protection, and his interests were so very different from the typical sixth grader’s.”
2. Brenda Barnes
Brenda Barnes was named the CEO of Sara Lee in February, 2005. Prior to joining Sara Lee, Barnes left her high-powered job at PepsiCo to spend more time with her young children. She describes herself as shy by nature and dislikes giving speeches to the extent that she will only do so if there is an obvious benefit to her company. She is known for divulging little personal information and shying away from public attention, preferring that the focus of interviews be Sara Lee and not her personal life.
3. Craig McCaw
Craig McCaw is a wireless communications entrepreneur known for his reclusive nature. McCaw grew up with the challenge of dyslexia which left him shy and unable to relate to his peers. At the same time, he claims his disability allowed him to see things from different perspectives and ultimately led to his business success. McCaw has been described as awkward in public:
“To see Mr. McCaw at public gatherings is to witness the unfortunate effects of his dyslexia—he is shy and unassuming, visibly uncomfortable during his rare public speaking engagements. The narrative of his ideas is disjointed, his point only becomes clear when his trains of thought collide in an unpredicted conclusion. He is famously well-known for blowing the punch-lines of jokes.”
4. James Copeland
James Copeland is the former CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and known for retiring alone with a book at family get-togethers. Copeland describes himself as insecure in social situations, but that he enjoys being around other people when working together on solving a problem. He notes that one of his strategies for dealing with his social insecurities is to be active in problem-solving enterprises such as the United Way. At the same time, he still has difficulties with non-working situations:
“In purely social events, I just toughed it out and did the best I could.”
5. Katharine Graham
Katharine Graham became the owner of the Washington Post after the death of her husband in 1963. From 1973 to 1991 she served as CEO of the paper, and was known for her reputation as a courageous, fair and thorough publisher. Despite her success, Graham described herself as once shy and insecure, but that she rose to the occasion when responsibility was thrust upon her. She died on July 17th, 2001.
6. Leroy Grumman
Leroy Grumman was the design genius behind the astronomically successful aeronautical engineering company that bore his name. The company was known for keeping things simple, retaining employees, and being profitable when others were failing; particularly during difficult times such as war. Grumman was known to be shy but commanded the respect of his workers. He died on October 4th, 1982.