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Are you an introvert struggling to navigate extroverted workplaces?

Then this episode of the Quiet and Strong podcast is for you! Host David Hall interviews Ryan Showalter, Director of Consulting at 84.51. Ryan noticed the struggles of other introverts at work, the same struggles that he had experienced earlier in his career.  Ryan had learned to embrace his introversion to be successful and now wanted to help support other introverts. This led to him creating an associate resource group with the support of 84.51 called “ITOPiA” which champions introverted employees.  ITOPiA is all about creating awareness around introversion in the workplace, and empowers introverts to embrace their strengths and also honor their needs at work. ITOPiA advocates for introvert-friendly practices, provides resources, sponsors events, and opportunities for one-on-one consulting, helping introverts thrive. Ultimately, ITOPiA aims to create a more inclusive environment and promote understanding between introverts and extroverts in the workplace.
 
Listen now to discover how you can flourish as an introvert in your career!

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Ryan Showalter
 is the the Director of Business Development Consulting and Merchandising at his organization 84.51°. Ryan leads various teams to drive value for clients and generate revenue growth. Ryan is also a passionate advocate for employee support. He founded an associate  resource group called ITopia at 84.51, which focuses on supporting introverted employees within the organization. This initiative has been a great success and has helped to foster a more inclusive and supportive work environment.

Contact Ryan:

Ryan’s Social Media:  
LinkedIn

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84.51 
is a retail data science, insights, and media company. They provide results-driving shopper insights and activation strategies that build measurable value for thier clients utilizing 84.51° Insights, 84.51° Loyalty Marketing and  retail media advertising solutions.

Their Diversity and Inclusion mission is to create a diverse culture of inclusion and belonging that inspires our associates to bring their whole selves to work every day. When associates feel included, valued, and respected for who they are and what they contribute, they feel a greater sense of belonging.


To learn more about 84.51 visit their website:  
8451.com
84.51 blog article on Itopia: 
How introverts can shatter the leadership glass ceiling

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Contact the host of the Quiet and Strong Podcast: 

David Hall

Author, Speaker, Educator, Podcaster

quietandstrong.com

Gobio.link/quietandstrong

david [at] quietandstrong.com

 Take the FREE Personality Assessment:

Typefinder Personality Assessment

Follow David on your favorite social platform:

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

 Get David’s book:
Minding Your Time: Time Management, Productivity, and Success, Especially for Intoverts


Questions and Answers

Q: What is the main goal of the “It” group?

A: The main goal of the “It” group is to create ideal environments for introverts to thrive in, as society and companies often have an unbalanced view towards extraversion.

Q: What sparked the idea for helping introverts in the workplace?

A: The idea was sparked by a meeting where one person struggled to speak in front of a large group but was able to do so, thanks to the speaker’s advice on presenting. This led to the idea of helping introverts in the workplace understand their strengths and processes so they can accelerate their careers and flourish.

Q: Who is the guest on this episode of the Quiet Strong podcast?

A: The guest on this episode is Ryan Show Walter, director of Business development consulting and merchandising at 84 51, who founded the “It” group at the company to support introverted employees.

Q: How does the “It” group support introverted employees within the organization?

A: The “It” group creates a safe environment for introverts to thrive by forming small groups called “pods,” where they have discussions, panels, and self-directed activities through a bot. The group also conducts larger meetings and aims to be a voice for introverts within their community.

Q: What is the main advice given to introverts on how to get engaged in meetings?

A: Introverts can ask simple questions like “why” to get engaged in the conversation, and if they don’t feel comfortable speaking up in meetings, they can find other ways to contribute, such as through email follow-ups or side conversations.


Timestamped Overview

[00:11:50] Giving permission to engage and signals of permission are helpful for introverts.

[00:16:32] There is no one specific way to do anything; focus on what works best for you to get the desired outcome.

[00:20:31] Creating group focused on extroversion to bring awareness and balance to ideal environments for introverts to thrive.

[00:22:36] Creating a supportive environment for introverts and extroverts to flourish.

[00:29:39] Introverts organized into “pods” to form a safe environment and provide a voice within the community.

[00:34:10] Helping introverts and managers to understand each other better leads to successful engagement.

[00:36:19] Tips and tricks for speaking up in meetings for introverts, such as asking simple questions, speaking early, and contributing value afterwards.

[00:47:07] Universal emotional struggles connected by meaningful Utopian change.

[00:50:13] Take first step, reach out for help, follow your heart.

[00:52:10] Connect with Ryan Showalter on LinkedIn, follow 84.51 on social media, and find supportive spaces for introverts.


Podcast Transcript

Ryan Showalter  00:00:00 – 00:00:39

There’s nothing wrong with me. Actually, there’s some really positive stuff here. This is how I work. This is what good looks like for me, this is when I’m at my best. How do I do more of that? Versus always focusing on maybe like, this is me at my worst. And what to change. Because as you mentioned, that’s not really gonna work this is sort of changing your core. So how do you work within the core and realize the core is positive and good and there’s a lot there to work with actually that you can bring out and and succeed and there’s there’s nothing you can’t do if you want to do it. You just gotta find your way?

David Hall

00:00:49-00:01:52

Hello, and welcome to episode 1:13 of the Quiet and Strong podcast especially for introverts. I’m your host David Hall, the creator of quiet and strong dot com. This is a weekly podcast dedicated to understanding the strengths and needs of introverts. Introversion is not something to fix, but to be embraced. Normally, we’ll air each episode on a Monday. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform. Leave a review. That would mean a lot to me. Tell others about the podcast, help get the word out there that introversion is a beautiful thing. Ryan Showalter is the director of Business development consulting and merchandising at his organization 84.51. Ryan leads various teams to drive value for clients and generate revenue growth. Ryan is also a passionate advocate for employee support. He founded an associate resource group called Itopia at 84.51, which focuses on supporting introverted employees within the organization. This initiative has been a great success and has helped to foster a more inclusive and supportive work environment. Alright. Welcome to the quiet strong podcast Ryan. Ryan, It’s so great to have you.

Ryan Showalter

00:01:53 – 00:01:56

Thanks. Thanks for having me. I’m really excited.

David Hall

00:01:57 – 00:02:11

We’re gonna talk about some exciting work that you’re doing at work. I I just think it’s awesome. But before we do that, let’s just get a little bit, you know, tell us about yourself and your journey, you know, discovering you or an introvert and how you embrace that.

Ryan Showalter

00:02:11 – 00:02:52

Yeah. So I would say, like, very early on, I was aware that I was had a quiet demeanor. As early as gosh. I don’t even know 4 or 5 years old. But the term introvert I didn’t discover that till much later. Probably early really early on in my career. Through something… Like a Myers briggs test where that term sort of like, surfaced. And and identifying with that spend is probably how I started to, like, really think about introversion.

David Hall

00:02:54 – 00:03:00

And then how did you decide to embrace it and, you know, find success with it?

Ryan Showalter

00:03:01 – 00:04:31

Yeah. I would say, you know, early on, in my career, I didn’t at all. I I… Okay. Ran away as far as I could from, introversion because I I was… I sort of viewed it and was sort of being told that it wasn’t necessarily like, a positive. And that was not just in work that was, you know, everything from early on in the childhood sort of career of, like, you know, didn’t speak up enough in class or all of those kind of signals that I received just made me feel like something was wrong. Something was undesirable about introversion that I I kinda hit it even though It’s really hard to hide it. But I would never admit it or come out and sort of boldly state that I was an introvert until much much much later. And it’s it’s just part of the process. I think most people in the space will go through of sort of like, understanding it being aware of it, sort of maneuvering through a level of understanding of what it is and what what the strengths are. And then you start to sort of embrace those strengths and realize there’s some power. There’s some real power and being introverted.

David Hall

00:04:31 – 00:04:38

So let’s talk about that. What are strengths that you found or you could even mention a strength you’ve seen in an fellow introvert.

Ryan Showalter

00:04:39 – 00:06:00

Yeah. I think I think one of the strengths that I’ve seen is that we as introverts tend to wrestle with the problem. Do a lot of scenario testing I call it in my head of running through all sorts of things. Again, very inward focus as we are processing sort of like a problem. I don’t know about you, David, but III run through every iteration I can think of about what if we do this? What if I this. What will happen, like, trying to think through and anticipate all of that can drive you a little, like, nuts at times. Because you’re so inward-focused and sort of like scenario all sorts of those things. But what you get as an outcome of all of that processing and scenario it’s a really thoughtful sort of approach that kind of like comes out and where you are prepared for some of those problems. Of course, every so often there’s something that I didn’t think about all that stuff. But that that’ll just set up that that same chain reaction if there is something that’s that I didn’t see or wasn’t aware of and I just process process process until you get a really good outcome.

David Hall

00:06:01 – 00:06:22

Yeah. And that’s a gift and… Yeah. Yeah. I have that gift too. Not not everybody does, but we need people with this gift that can think things through. Make some strategies, you know, look at available resources. What what’s the best approach we can do here you know, what if something goes wrong. We definitely need that. And that’s that’s a gift that we have. 

Ryan Showalter

00:06:24 – 00:06:54

Yeah. So it’s not it’s tied to, like, being able to focus and really, like, sit there and and and have that sort of focus mentality as well as you’ll hear that as a strength as well because others can’t. Like, it it doesn’t sit well with them to sit with a problem for that long. And they’ll they’ll pivot or get distracted very easily or those kinds of things. So it’s it’s kinda tied to focus, I guess.

David Hall

00:06:55 – 00:07:21

Yeah. And so on this show, we definitely talk about strengths of introverts. That’s some amazing strengths. We could go on for a long time talking about different strengths that introversion  can bring. But also we talk about needs. And so with those couple things that you just mentioned, we do need some preparation. We do need some quiet. We do need to recharge sometimes. So how do you how do you build that into your work?

Ryan Showalter

00:07:22 – 00:08:28

Yeah. So what I tried to do is is is be very purposeful and mindful with regard to that with regard to my energy and and scheduling it. And making sure that I’ve given myself space whenever possible to have a little time to myself so that I can energize for the next event or prepare for the next event or really just recharge from a previous event. So, like, I think it’s a real it’s a real key and for me the unlock was realizing that again, it it’s okay to do that. That is how I operate. That is how I need to be at my best. And so it is okay to schedule a little bit of time to recharge. There’s nothing there’s nothing wrong with that in any way shape or form, it is how you bring out your best.

David Hall

00:08:30 – 00:09:04

Yeah. Exactly. And that’s a key. It’s how you bring out your best. And as you’ve been saying, you and I we didn’t always feel that way. You know, we were made to feel like it’s strange if you need a little time alone. You know? It’s right. It it’s so freeing to be your best when you realize, hey, you know what? My friend are colleague here might not need the same thing. But it’s fine if I do, you know? And and they need to understand that too. You know, I’m gonna take a little time. It’s nothing personal, it’s just I need to be… I need this quiet, and I’m gonna do my best work this way. So that’s that’s some amazing realizations that can really set you free to do your best work.

Ryan Showalter

00:09:05 – 00:10:29

Correct. And, you know, like most things, it’s it’s like a balancing act. So, like, for me, I really love the lunch hour and taking time for myself during that hour, but there’s there’s times and moments where I need to balance that with making sure that I’m connecting with other people through a lunch. As well. So, like… It it can’t be all one way or all the other way where lunches are scheduled for me every every day that that would not work. Or I’d have to find a way to make that work where I I have another way of sort of, like, having that a long time But it’s a balance, and you’re constantly sort of balancing those sort of energy needs. Or at least I am. And and again, it’s okay. It’s okay to go on a walk or spend some time by yourself or eat lunch by yourself. I think that’s… I I find it exceptionally okay because it it recharges me and I get so much value out of sort of separating myself a little bit from probably a lot of that processing work that we talked about where I can just get away from a a lot of things and just sort of be content with myself.

David Hall

00:10:30 – 00:11:02

Yeah. And I like that you said sometimes it’s a lunch alone. Sometimes it it might be a lunch, you know, to connect with some other people which is still very important to us. And you you know, you just figure out what works. And maybe where you’re with with other people at lunchtime time, it might be a great time, but you might need to figure out okay, well, I didn’t take lunch alone today so I gotta figure out a little bit quiet time somewhere else. And it might be quiet time still doing work, but it’s still quiet time, You know? 

Ryan Showalter

00:11:03 – 00:11:44

That is that is correct. Right. It doesn’t have to be unproductive, quote unquote unproductive to the work. Yeah. But again, even that quiet walk by yourself is a productivity measure because you’re gonna come back at a higher rate because you’ll have more energy. So you’re gonna be more productive after as a result. So again, It’s just kind of like, making sure that you find that time, knowing yourself well enough when you need that time. And giving yourself grace to take the time and hold yourself sort of accountable to making sure that you actually take the time for yourself. 

David Hall

00:11:45 – 00:11:50

Yeah. Yeah. And as you’ve already said, it’s normal. You know? That’s. That’s yourself permission. You know? I need… Sometimes I’m gonna take a walk with somebody else. Sometimes I’m gonna take a walk by myself, and it’s all it’s all good.

Ryan Showalter

00:11:50 – 00:14:19

Yeah. I’m glad you mentioned permission. Because I I think that’s… I don’t know. I found that to be a key sort of unlock if you will. Is making sure that I give myself permission or others are sort of like, signaling to me that there’s permission has been really helpful. Because I I don’t know what it is David, but as an introvert, I think you’re… I don’t know. I I struggle with, like, when’s the right moment to sort of engage. And and signals of permission are very helpful with that for me. So that’s really theoretical of nature. So let me give you an example of, like, yeah to meeting if someone says like… And again, gives me enough time to process and I’ve found extroverts who do this. I work really well with of signaling to me. Hey, Ryan. I know you spend a lot of time. And they do a little bit of a pre so that I can sort of gather my thoughts. So hey, Ryan, I know you spent a lot of time on topic ABC. Ithink you’ve done great work. Like it’s been really interesting. Do you have a point of view on topic of ABC or something like that? But that’s a signal to me that like, oh, I someone believes I can add value here and then I add value versus me what what’s happening in the meeting in my own internal head is, like, Okay. I’ve done something here. I haven’t flushed it all the way out. I still wanna process this a little bit more. Should I say something? It’s it’s not all the way big how do I how do I inject myself here And by the time I’m doing all of that that moment usually has passed. Someone said something or we’ve moved on another topic and that moment gets lost. And so this this idea of permissions is is, I think really kind of key. And you can set that beforehand is probably more ideal than in the moment. But, like, making sure you understand your role, making making sure you have the permission to sort of like be a that role, I think is a is a real unlock. And I don’t wanna say, like, we gotta ask permission for everything we’re doing. It’s more the signaling kind of aspect.

David Hall

00:14:20 – 00:15:18

Yeah. And I think you hit on something really important there. It’s… When I talk about version extra version it’s not good or bad. It’s just we bring different strengths. And our teams they should be made up of introverts and extroverts. It’s it’s a good thing. But what is best is what you were describing when the extroverts understand the introverts and that you might need a little time to process and that’s fine. You know. And, you know, you understanding yourself, hey, you know, it’s gonna be better if I prepare for this, and then, you know, making sure I wanna make this point in this meeting or I wanna ask this question, yep, that kind of thing. But if if… And that’s that’s it’s all part of it. So it’s not just about introverts understanding themselves. It’s about introverts extroverts understanding themselves and understanding each other. And that’s that’s key to all this, because we bring different strengths. And it’s not gonna change, but we could work really well together. And I’ve had that experience at work as well.

Ryan Showalter

00:15:19 – 00:16:12

Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. There’s lots of ways we can interact, I think better together. And you brought it up. It it comes through understanding and awareness of how people show up and which way they show up the best and and sort of diving into that. And and and really trying to leverage those strengths is really powerful. There’s ways people can introverts can set up introverts can set up extroverts for their strength. Extroverts can set up introverts for their strengths, all of those kinds of things, but it it starts with the awareness of and discussion probably of like, how how that all works. Is is really critical.

David Hall

00:16:13 – 00:16:31

Yeah. Yeah. I think we’ll probably get it to this a little bit more just a second here, but just now another thing that we always do on the show is, you know, we talk about strengths needs, strategies for success, but we also bust some myths. Is there a myth about introversion? And maybe we already busted a couple. Is there myth about introversion that you wanna dispel today

Ryan Showalter

00:16:32 – 00:18:24

You know, honestly, they’re… I mean, there’s so many, and I know you’ve you put all a lot in this podcast. I I would like to, like, just and we’ve talked about it. A little bit higher level is that there isn’t a way or the way to do anything. I I firmly believe there is not a specific way or d way that you have to show up or do anything. Rather I would like instead of, like, that being sort of the standard. I think your way needs to be sort of the standard, and we we focus on how your way creates outcomes. And if the outcome is not what we are looking for, then we can discuss them. We can discuss certain things about your way. But if the outcome is is what we looking for, does it really matter if we did a you’re way my way. His way, some books where some strategic thinker’s way, some extroverted ideal way. It it sort of doesn’t matter. How we get there again, within some some levels of boundaries of acceptance. But, like, that to me is the biggest myth, higher level myth doesn’t necessarily even have to be about introversion or extroversion. In that way, but, like, there there isn’t a set to do anything. The way is which whichever way works best for you to get to the outcome that you need to get to. And learning and and and figuring out how your way works is more important than sort of delving in and trying to figure out some other person’s way.

David Hall

00:18:25 – 00:19:06

Oh, that’s so well said. It can be about introversion/extroversion, but there’s so many facets to our personalities, and we come at things differently. And the way like you’re saying is your way, you know, my my way of of doing this thing, leaning into my gifts and strengths, is gonna be the best way for me, you know, just like you’re leaning into your gifts is gonna be the best way for you. And we do have outcomes, were those achieved? But we shouldn’t dictate the process for achieving those because we will be wasting some talent, you know? And not getting the best out of people if we try and dictate how they should use their gifts, you know, to to achieve that outcome, But make sure the outcome is achieved, of course.

Ryan Showalter

00:19:07 – 00:19:55

Correct. And if if we didn’t achieve the outcome as an introvert as we sort of talked about, trust me we’re gonna ruminate and and and really spend a lot of time self-diagnosing some of those things, which could be a positive or can… You know, if you sort of spiral into a more negative tone. Can be a bad thing. But you know, we’re gonna figure out gonna figure out really intensely what what went wrong with our way, if you will. And and make an adjustment. Like I said, you wanna make sure we’re spiraling positively or an upward trajectory when you’re doing that not downward where it gets into some negative thoughts that can kinda creep in.

David Hall

00:19:57 – 00:20:30

Yeah. And that’s another strength that we definitely have. I think it’s pretty common to most introverts like that gift of reflection. So that’s if I’m not achieving the outcome that I want, yeah. I I am gonna be very reflective and figure out, okay how can I do this better or, you know, how can I achieve this goal? So that’s another gift that we have for sure. So we’re talking a lot about how to bring these things into the work that you do and again, you have a great story of something that you’ve done it where tell about your work and tell us about Itopia.  And I love that name. Yeah.

Ryan Showalter

00:20:31 – 00:22:30

So the work that we’ve done in this space, is we we sort of formed a for lack of a better word a group that is centered around extroversion, introversion, ambiverts, and and really trying to sort of, like, have conversations like we’re having right now. Just in a broader sense within our our our workplace of how do we unlock? How do we get better of the interacting with each other? Through this lens of of and extra version. Just similar to many of the other groups that are out there. People led Teams or associate resource groups that focus on maybe gender or race or those other areas. We formed a group here at my company 84 51 and then it spun into a similar group at our parent company, which is Kroger, where we we we do provide focus on sort of these questions that we’re discussing today and strengths and struggles and and myths. And all of those kinds of things so that we can bring awareness sort of to this world. And we called it. We called it Itopia, which is nothing too creative here, but we took introversion and Utopia and smashed it together because the idea is to create a place that has a little bit more of a balanced view for introverts. Because too often, it’s unbalanced in our sort of society and in our companies and and we’re just trying to bring a little bit more balance and ideal environments for introverts and to thrive and

David Hall

00:22:31 – 00:22:35

Yeah. Again, I love the name. How did it start? How did this this group start?

Ryan Showalter

00:22:36 – 00:27:17

Yeah. So the spark for it really was just maybe being in a meeting. I was in a meeting just like normal, very kind of larger department meeting, maybe 20 people 30 people and everyone, our leader at the time just sort of like, at the end of the meeting, just wanted everyone to go around the room and sort of express what they were most proud of. Again, probably not the greatest kind of approach for an introvert. But what happened was everyone went around the room was telling all of these great stories of what they’ve done to contribute to the business. And one individual actually started their sort of highlight if you will with just that they were proud to speak in front of a group this large. And then went on to say, the great work that they did. But it really hit me. That small sort of comment really hit me strong. I don’t know what made me so tuned with it, probably because I saw myself in him, and I would wouldn’t have had the strength to say that in front of a large group, so early in my career as this person was. So I just wanted to acknowledge it. I reached out to him and told him how much I understood, you know, while a small comment that many might have just gloss over it wasn’t lost on me the courage that it took to say what it meant. And then it spiraled into like, okay. Cool. Thing you know, Ryan. I’ve got an upcoming meeting a presentation and I’m a little nervous about. Do you mind, like, spending some time and talking about, like, what you’ve done in those situations. So that led to after we did that and hopefully, I helped them I think I did. That led to, like, okay. The idea was, like, wait a second. There’s… There there’s lots of people out there in our space sort of wrestling with these ideas and and feeling as I did, sort of bad about being an introvert, how do we how can I help them? And it really started to zone in on me of like how do I help someone avoid some of the pain that I felt early in my career and and strip out some of this judgment for just being who you are. And how how how can we alleviate that? Because it is unnecessary pain. It truly is unnecessary pain, but I I think a lot of introverts either have, or will go through that and it can become sort of self-destructive and hard when it doesn’t. There’s no There’s no need for it, honestly. And so, like, how do we eradicate that? And that’s how this idea of sort of born. So I is really sort of focused on 2 areas, like, how do we help the individual who is sort of like, learning processing, understanding how sort of comes to life, their strengths all those things. How do we aid that process. In my example of my career, how do we accelerate that? So you don’t spend 20 30 years of wrestling with those sort of negative side and how do you get sort of to the other side where you start to flourish and excel. So we do… We kinda work on things like that to kind of help accelerate that process if you will. But then second, secondly, we try to also push against the organization and the company that we have to create a culture that is more balanced. In how they sort of think through larger initiatives and things like that, but that we do think about how how that’s going to play with the introverted community. And is there another way or a different way that might be more inclusive and create more of that sense of belonging for introverts and experts alike.

David Hall

00:27:19 – 00:27:22

Do you have an example of something that you advocated for?

Ryan Showalter

00:27:24 – 00:28:21

So some of the things that we’ve worked on is that are like sort of annual company meeting, which can be very daunting an introvert, How how do we create more space and time in the agenda for some of those down so that people can recharge is a is a good example of of that action, not necessarily because of something Itopia did, but I think partial to some of the conversations that we’ve had where awareness has brought up. Our company also is really valuing kind of deep focus work. And so they’ve actually scheduled certain times to block off from meetings, things like that. That has also sort of occurred.

David Hall

00:28:22 – 00:28:26

what do you mean by that? Does everybody have the same time? Yeah. Everyone has the same block.

Ryan Showalter

00:28:27 – 00:29:06

You know. And I think the the devil is in the details on that in terms of how we honor that as a as a company, but there’s a strong sort of acknowledgment to try to honor that as much as possible, does it, you know, get a hundred all the time? No, Of course, there’s certain times where you might schedule over that block. Time, but for the most part, everyone, I think tries to really hone in on that. And again, it goes back to permissions gives associates the permission to sort of push back on some of those meetings to help sort of protect their calendar and allow for that

David Hall

00:29:06 – 00:29:07

Because Yes

Ryan Showalter

00:29:07 – 00:29:25

protect company. Right? I mean, it’s it’s driven all the way through the company. So it’s not it’s not me saying I need deep processing work. And again, it feels like something other than what might be the norm. This is the norm. And the other is actually interrupting that.

David Hall

00:29:26 – 00:29:38

Right. That’s such a great idea. Such a great example there. So tell us a little bit more about how you actually formed the group it’s organized and what support did you get from your organization to do that? 

Ryan Showalter

00:29:39 – 00:31:15

Yeah. So the group is sort of organized, like I like I mentioned, eventually was organized under this people let team what we call people at Teams are more commonly referred to as Associate resource groups. So we act very similar to a lot of our other associate resource groups. But the way we operate does have to be a little bit sort of different because introverts tend to be a little bit different in terms of what they like. Where they can thrive. So we we did start out with sort of creating what we call pods, which were small groups of sort of introverts getting together and sort of talking through some of these things. So we create an environment that was smaller, I think more created more of a safe environment where it could be a little bit more vulnerable. With a group of people that are experiencing many of the same things that you are and sort of having discussions, panels, all sorts of things that were sort of self directed through the pods. And that evolved into sort of like, larger type meetings as well. Which is where we are sort of today in terms of how we operate. But it’s really about trying to be a voice for introverts within our community sort of how Itopia works.

David Hall

00:31:16 – 00:31:22

And so we’ve definitely advocated for some things. It sounds like you might have some different events and things like that. Is that right?

Ryan Showalter

00:31:23 – 00:32:43

Correct. So, yeah. I guess how it comes to life is through… Yeah, we’ll we’ll sort of do the work to create events to bring awareness, mostly awareness driving sort of events for the whole company. We will create some content to help the company, know, on these topics So, like, you know, 1 pager deliverables that sort of can help with again awareness, what it might feel like as an introvert and possible solutions or better ways or more successful ways to sort of approach certain things. And then we create a community at times introversion for a variety of reasons can feel very isolating and that you’re the only one sort of going through this. Or some of these things that you view as sort of negatives as as individualized to you when in reality, a lot of this is is sort of due to our makeup as sort of and that that community and support means means a lot to a lot of people.

David Hall

00:32:44 – 00:32:51

And I know we we’ve talked before. I know you also do offer some 1 on 1 support, you know, for other introverts. How how does that work?

Ryan Showalter

00:32:52 – 00:34:04

Yeah. So, like, at times, they will just simply reach out to us. We do have a a general inbox that we work from or because of our visibility as sort of like some leaders on itopia. Some people may reach out to us individually, and that’s totally welcomed. The whole idea that we talked about of was really born from like, if I can just help 1 person, do something a little bit different that saves them from making a mistake I made or some pain or some negative sort of outcomes, it’s all worth it. So it it it is well worth my time to spend 30 minutes sort of talking with someone who who’s experiencing something, sharing thoughts creating a safe environment where they can talk through those things. Is worth every every second of it, because again, they’ll they’ll be more productive hopefully as an outcome of that, and that that makes it all worth it.

David Hall

00:34:04 – 00:34:09

Yeah. Absolutely. Sounds amazing. What’s an example of something that somebody might have come to you with? Like, I help help with this. 

Ryan Showalter

00:34:10 – 00:35:49

Yep. So 1 example was like a actually an an ex manager came to me and and said they were they were struggling to sort of connect with someone who was who is what they believed to be had introvert was more quiet and and we’re the manager was had immense positive intentions of wanting to help. But the connection wasn’t there. And again, what I simply tried to help do is explain the awareness side of it. Which I think hopefully sort of brought down some walls of judging or misunderstanding of what was going on through potentially what the introvert was sort of thinking feeling experiencing. So that then the manager sort of thought about different ways to engage and from all all indications was pretty successful because I didn’t get any anymore sort of questions about how to help. So it’s it’s things like that that we can do.  We we just don’t talk about this enough. And so I called you, David for this podcast and all all of these other introverts that I think there’s more of a movement these days than you know, say, 20 years ago, of bringing more awareness and understanding to this. Because with that, that judgment becomes less and less and less. And that that to me is at the heart of a lot of the things we’ve been talking about

David Hall

00:35:49 – 00:36:12

 Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. And yeah, the extrovert might think, oh, if I could just help them get out of their shell. You things like that where like, no. You just need to understand. Need time to process. They need, you know, quiet time sometimes, All the all that good stuff would . What saves your?

Ryan Showalter

00:36:13 – 00:36:14

that’s right about. That’s right. That’s right It’s.

David Hall

00:36:15 – 00:36:17

What’s  an introvert our struggle that’s come your way.

Ryan Showalter

00:36:19 – 00:38:34

An introvert struggle that’s come my way probably the most common is, like how do I how I speak up and meetings, you know, like, how do I be sure that I’m sort of being seen in those moments. And so we talk about some tactics and tips and tricks. My favorite one is just, you know, asking simple questions and seeking to understand So the simplest question is, like, why… I mean, you know, you just repeat something early on of something… To understand why. But what what that does of, like, asking a question or speaking early, it gets you engaged in the game if you will. Versus if you let sort of it linger, sort of creates a snowball moment Of, like, I gotta speak up. And now I gotta speak up even in a bigger way because I’ve waited 20 minutes and I haven’t said anything. So it’s it’s like little things like that to try to help sort of, like, an introvert in those situations, which again, that wide question is sort of a natural curiosity. That an introvert might have. And, you know, it’s as simple as as as that. But asking it early or as you’ve mentioned preparing for that, all of those kinds of things, are things we sort of discuss. Personally, we also talk about a lot of times of, like it’s totally okay if you don’t speak up in a meeting by the way. Or at least, I believe so. Now you gotta figure out ways to contribute. To the conversation, which might happen after in an email follow up or a side of desk sort of conversation with someone So you do have to bring out sort of your your value and and and thoughts and and point of view. But again, it doesn’t have to be necessarily the way we all think it should happen. It it doesn’t necessarily have to happen in the meeting.

David Hall

00:38:34 – 00:39:20

Yeah. You know, I I land on that. It’s like, do your best preparation, You know? And if you want to speak in the meeting, you should have find the confidence to be able to do that. But also, going back to permission, sometimes you will need to follow up with the email or or going to chat with somebody. That’s just gonna happen because And even if we did speak up in the meeting, that’s still gonna happen because we’re we’re we’re gonna think more on whatever it was and come up with other things. So try to participate in the meeting, you know, bring your questions forward, talk about your points, but you may need to follow up after with the email or or talking to somebody and that’s again back to it’s it’s normal. 

Ryan Showalter

00:39:21 – 00:40:11

Yep. And on the flip side then, how do I work back with our company to create and foster the right environment for a meeting. Pre reads agendas, you know, if if you expect people to say something, let them know, those kinds of things that we can also kind of create a more friend environment that will enable more discussion from all of the participants. Is also sort of the flip side of that. So again, it’s it’s yes. The individual needs to think through and and sort of work through what’s their way of contributing, but how do we also think through as a company as organization? What’s an environment that enables them to do it their way that supports sort of that that notion.

David Hall

00:40:12 – 00:40:25

Yeah. That’s a good example. We need an agenda. So we can think maybe research ahead of time. So those are kinds of things that yes, our organizations can definitely do. 

Ryan Showalter

00:40:27 – 00:40:40

Again, David to be honest, I I haven’t been the best example of that. Like, You know, sent out meetings with no pre, no agenda. And and so, like, it’s also holding all of us accountable to that. So… 

David Hall

00:40:40 – 00:40:53

Yeah. Yeah. None of us are perfect. But, you know, working towards let’s help people be prepared for the meetings. And some people aren’t gonna need that, but introverts definitely do better with some time to think about things. 

Ryan Showalter

00:40:53 – 00:40:59

Yeah. And I again, I know it takes a little bit of time to do that. But again, if you take that 5 minutes, I I guarantee you you’ll have a more fruitful sort of conversation.

David Hall

00:41:00 – 00:41:12

Yeah. Absolutely. So in Itopia, was there anything that was surprising to you as you started to get together with other introverts? Or was there anything that was just really confirming like, yeah, this is what we need to do.

Ryan Showalter

00:41:13 – 00:42:15

Yeah. I think 1 of the biggest surprises I had was my own misunderstanding of extroverts. I I really didn’t understand extoverts as much as I thought I did. And so I was doing some of those same assumptions saying judging in terms of how an introvert. I mean, sorry how an extrovert sort of acts and processes. So that that’s been helpful for me personally because again, we’re we started talking about it. And 1 of my favorite things is getting an introvert and an introvert sort of in a room together and talk through things and ask questions of, like, how does this feel if I do this or like, what are you thinking when someone doesn’t speak up in a meeting or those kinds of things or why are you speaking up in a meeting so often and all that stuff and really getting under that surface level of what’s happening. Is some of the most rewarding things I found. That also sort of like shocked me. And I’m yeah. I’m sorry. I know you had the second part of that question, but I forgot it. 

David Hall

00:42:16 – 00:42:26

Oh, no. But just on that, what was something that you learned from an extra word colleague that they do that you didn’t understand before?

Ryan Showalter

00:42:27 – 00:43:29

Like,  one of the things I really learned was just they speak to think. And I made the maybe false assumption and a lot of the times that they have already done some thinking before they spoke. And so then I would judge sort of their speaking as that’s sort of the best you came up with in terms of like, once you’ve thought about it, that’s the best you came up with. And and what’s really happening is or what I’ve learned is they’re processing outward. And so they’re… Sometimes they need to sort of work through that. And I shouldn’t apply any judgment on some of those things because they haven’t thought about it. They’re thinking about it in the moment, and it’s coming out in real time is something I learned. Again, I I just assumed everyone did some level of sort of what I do. But that’s not that’s not the case and that’s not a fair judgment by any stretch.

David Hall

00:43:31 – 00:44:22

Yeah. I was getting trained on being a facilitator for the Myers Briggs, and the facilitator said that, like, introverts think and then speak ex speak in order to think. And that was, like 1 of my light bulb moments around all of this. It’s like, oh, it is just like you’re describing, it is different. And, you know, maybe it’s understanding that, you know, you’re working closely with the extorvert. They may need to talk things out more than you do. You know? They may go to bounce ideas and it’s totally normal. You know, sometimes I find group brainstorming very valuable. Sometimes I also find thinking on my own very valuable It just you know, please acknowledge that they’re both good. But just know, like, with the extra, they may need to spend a lot more time just thinking out loud with you. And that’s that’s normal for them. 

Ryan Showalter

00:44:23 – 00:45:22

Yeah. And then David, the change happens is, like, instead of, like me sort, again, give if we can just strip out this judgment instead of me judging or or wondering what they were thinking, I get now I can get more curious and start to help them with questions with active listening. Sort of flush out their ideas in the moment. Yeah. So it it’s become rewarding in so many ways because now there’s better conversations. I am now helping them and they then helping me as they flush out things and sort of filing way active listening, filing away following away some of the things they’re talking about sort of off the cuff. And then usually, they say something that hits something that I’m like, that’s wait a second. You know, like, can we talk more about that? And then we dive into that. So it can help me accelerate sort of some of that processing and scenario testing that we talked about earlier.

David Hall

00:45:23 – 00:45:44

An important takeaway from all this too is it’s just a natural way of being… I don’t know why we process things internally and an extrovert processes externally but it’s natural. It’s a gift. It’s not gonna change. You know, we’re not gonna change introverts. We’re not gonna change, how we process things. For example, it’s it’s just a way and it needs to be understood.

Ryan Showalter

00:45:44 – 00:46:42

Correct. And then how do we work better because of it? Yeah. That’s that’s really the gist of. And many ways, is how do we actually get better at working together? To get to some of those outcomes we wanna get to, and they’re… I believe there is there are better ways maybe not a way or the way, but there’s definitely better ways we can sort of do that as a group. And again, we just don’t talk about it enough. We don’t understand each other enough. Or or we come at it with assumptions built in, pre built assumptions and myths and all those kinds of things. And then we just sort of continue to operate that way not realizing sort of how we impact each other and what that all means. And so it’s a lot of this is awareness and understanding that hopefully creates change in action and then yields better results.

David Hall

00:46:42 – 00:47:06

Yeah. And what you’re saying is we don’t talk about it enough. So I’m so glad we’re having this conversation of glad you’re doing the work you’re doing at your company. It blows my mind that, you know, we… These personality differences have been around since the beginning of time and we still don’t under stay them, but that’s why it’s good to have these conversations. So, you know, we talked about what surprised you getting together with other introverts he’s there something that was really confirming for you?

Ryan Showalter

00:47:07 – 00:49:07

I think what was really confirming for me was sort of the feelings behind some of this So I talk about… Or I’ve talked about like, how can feel sort of isolated in this world. But for me, I was really reaffirm that, like, others were feeling the same way. I knew others were sort of like wrestling if you will, with some of these sort of questions and and how to approach certain things. But I wasn’t sure if the feeling side was sort of universal or or or wide scale, I should probably say, not universal, but on a scale that was definitely reaffirming and told me yes. And then the reason why Itopia, I think works. Is that it is meaningful. And it hits into some of these emotional centers if you will and that’s why it can be so powerful because we can sort of change those emotions and if you can change those emotions from negative into a positive that idea of excelling or flourishing or or those things start to really happen and it kinda happen really quickly after that. And thought that’s been definitely the most reaffirm this is sort of the emotional side of this journey. Is real. It’s intense. It is not talked about enough, not openly shared enough. And because you have to be vulnerable and and sort of open up some of some wounds that you have and scars that you have covered over to get through all of it, but it can be it’s immensely powerful to sort of go through that and know that you’re not alone in that.

David Hall

00:49:08 – 00:49:21

Yeah. I would guess that that would be something as people realize, I am not alone. This is this is okay. This is good. 

Ryan Showalter

00:49:21 – 00:49:59

This is good. Right. Usually. Like, this is not alone. Yeah there’s nothing wrong with me. Actually, there’s some really positive stuff here this is how I work. This is what good looks like for me this is when I’m at my best. How do I do more of that? Versus always focusing on maybe, like, this is me and my worst and what to change. Because as you mentioned, that’s not really gonna work. Is is sort of changing your core. So how do you work within the core and realize the core is positive and good and there’s a lot there to work with actually. That you can bring out and and succeed and there’s there’s nothing you can’t do if you want to do it. You just gotta find your way.

David Hall

00:50:00 – 00:50:13

So I am enjoying so much sharing about this work. I know that there’s people listening. They’re like, oh, man, that’s such a brilliant idea. What advice would you give if someone wants to start something similar at their place of work?

Ryan Showalter

00:50:13 – 00:51:55

Yeah. First off, just that first step always the hardest. So I I would just advise you to… If you’re thinking about something, if you’re processing something in this space, just do… Create that first step. For me in Itopia, you know, it it started that way and then it’s snowball really quickly. So take that first step, feel free to reach out to me when I was starting this. It was really hard to find others that were sort of doing things in this space. And and so it’s really hard to try to figure some things out. I’m here for anyone who wants to sort of, like, start something similar or curious or questions, because I I crave that resource, and it was hard to find. Yeah. The dig around. Luckily, I think, you know, where we are today, there’s a lot more resources out there. But definitely I’m a resource And, yeah. Just follow your heart on this topic. You’re going to be in the right space, the work that you do in this space is going to be needed and valued you just have to find it. And and like I said, Just take that action, take that necessary first step it could be scary. But I can tell you it’s probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

David Hall

00:51:56 – 00:52:09

Yeah. And as you said, sometimes you gotta be vulnerable to help other people and I’ve definitely been there too, but it’s so important. And I just I applaud the work that you’re doing. That’s amazing. So you said people could reach out to you. How do they do that to find out more about you and Itopia?

Ryan Showalter

00:52:10 – 00:53:43

Yeah. I mean, 1 thing you can connect with me through Linkedin, Ryan Showalter. And if you do just, you know, I would highlight Itopia or or say something around It so that I know sort of where the topic is. And then typically, we will we will communicate some of the things we’re doing at it through our company. So you can also follow 84 dot 51 on all the social channels, Instagram, the those likes are also Kroger. And occasionally, you will you’ll have to sift through some of our corporate host scenes as well. But from time to time we do highlight some of this work and try to get that out there into the space. It’s important. For us as a company to be recognized sort of as as a friendly place for all individuals, but in this case introverts and know that if you’re… You know, and you you don’t have to be in a toxicsort of environment. There are places like 84 51 like K, and many others where you don’t have to experience some of that level of toxicity and judgment, and there are places that support sort of who you are. And so you’ll see things go through that sort of mechanism.

David Hall

00:53:44 – 00:53:59

Alright. Thanks again, Ryan. We have gifts as introverts. We need to bring those to work. We need to know that it’s brilliant. And figure out what we need as well and just help everybody understand it. So thanks again for being on the show today. This has been a wonderful conversation.

Ryan Showalter

00:54:00 – 00:54:22

No. Thank you, David. Because, like, sometimes we just need a little help and the work you’re doing, the work others are doing. Is definitely providing that help that people need to just get that started and and and move through it. So Thank you for what you’re doing in this space. Your voice is is one that is needed and definitely appreciated it.

David Hall

00:54:23 – 00:55:04

Thank you so much for joining me. I look forward to further connecting with you. Reach out at David at QuietandStrong {dot} com. Or check out the quiet and strong dot com website, which includes blog posts, links to social media and other items. Send me topics or guests, you would like to see on the show. If you’re interested in getting to know yourself better, there’s now a free type-finder personality assessment on the Quiet and Strong website. This free assessment will give you a brief report including the 4 letter Meyers Briggs code, I’ll add a link to the show notes. There’s so many great things about being an introvert, so we need those to be understood. Get to know your introverted strengths and needs and be strong.

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