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Meet Jennifer Kahnweiler of Jennifer B. Kahnweiler

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Kahnweiler.

Jennifer, B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D., Certified Speaking Professional, is an author and global speaker hailed as a “champion for introverts.” Her bestselling books The Introverted Leader (a new 2nd edition comes out on March 6, 2018), Quiet Influence, and The Genius of Opposites have been translated into 16 languages and help introverts throughout the world expand their leadership capacity.

She has deepened her knowledge and appreciation for introverts through her work as a learning and development professional and speaker at leading organizations like General Electric, Freddie Mac, NASA, Turner Broadcasting, the US Centers for Disease Control, the American Management Association and TedX Centennial Park Women.

She has been invited to deliver keynote speeches and seminars in Australia, Vietnam, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, and Paraguay. Jennifer has also been featured in Fortune, Forbes, Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She serves on several professional boards, including Becoming A Welder in Atlanta and derives joy from being a mom, grandma and mentor to professional women.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I consider myself extremely fortunate because growing up I had a family that always supported my ambitions. I was also given opportunities to pursue higher education. My husband of 44 years, Bill, has always been a rock and we have worked through the many stages of balancing two lives as parents and working professionals. Now we get to enjoy our female posse of daughters and granddaughters, so I say now that battling teenage angst was worth it all!  Being a working mom my entire life and navigating a dual career marriage did create some challenges.

When my daughters, Lindsey and Jessie, were young, a wise mentor advised me to slow down my push towards achievement and be more present with my kids while they were little.  She had regrets about missing out on her kids’ lives. That shifted my perspective, so I decided to cut back on work travel for several years. I also sold a fast-growing consulting practice and worked on other people’s projects. Moving towards a simpler model of work did help me gain more flexibility. I am grateful that during the 80’s and 90’s technology was so much less prevalent, so I could achieve more balance.

My main struggle was internal. It was difficult to let go of the guilt when I missed time with the kids. But the truth was, I love working and still do. In retrospect worrying was unnecessary. As I watched my daughters blossom and morph into their independent selves I realized that they were going to learn from me by watching my behavior. I think they learned from both Bill and I that work can be energizing and fulfilling I was able to be present with them when I was home because I was expressing myself at work.

A downside of time in the 80’s and 90’s was that work offered little flexibility. I did ask for flexible hours and had to continually negotiate for time off to work at home and attend school events. It was always a big deal. Today, fortunately, more companies offer flexible work options. I hated being chained to an office desk where a boss could clock me in and out and I suppose that is why I moved towards the entrepreneurial life. I have had 3 different coaching, training and consulting companies in addition to working as a consultant internally in organizations.

I also continually sought out role models and mentors and it was tough at times to find women who were not either “all in’ to the corporate Type A lifestyle or had dropped out of the race. I didn’t give up, though, and finding supportive men and women who I could learn from continues to make a huge difference in my life and career.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
My company provides coaching, speaking, and training services to organizations who want to harness the power of introverts in their companies. Introverts, those who get their energy from within, makeup between 40-60% of the population.

My book, The Introverted Leader; Building On Your Quiet Strength  (Berrett-Koehler, March 2018) is now a classic on this topic and draws from the lessons of successful introverted leaders. This new expanded edition lays out a well-tested, four-step strategy introverts can use to build on their quiet strength and make it a source of great power. The book includes fresh information on the unique challenges faced by introverted women, how leaders can shape a more introvert-friendly workplace, customized hiring and coaching strategies for introverts, and the positive correlation between introverted leadership and company performance.

Our programs are engaging, humorous and filled with actionable content and tools that can help individuals and teams succeed.

I am proud that we have helped thousands of introverts find their voices and tapped into a need that is worldwide.

What were you like growing up?
I was an energetic kid who was enthusiastic about new ventures. My Dad, Alvin Boretz, was a writer for TV and film and I loved the word “ebullient” that he used to describe me. My mom nurtured my interest in the arts and social justice.

I grew up outside of NYC on Long Island and my parents were true New Yorkers. We often traveled to the city to see plays, concerts, museums, discover new restaurants, etc. and I still love doing that in Atlanta.

I liked variety, in my interests and friends. I played the flute (my kids can’t believe I was a band nerd, but I defend it proudly:) I always loved helping others and did volunteer work with disadvantaged children from a young age.

I relished the independence of summer camp and tried every activity, experimenting with different versions of myself. I still remember my blue lips and sense of accomplishment after completing a swim across a frigid Maine lake.

I learned early that there weren’t any feasible heroines on TV. June Cleaver, the mom on Leave It to Beaver, didn’t cut it!  But I discovered Brenda Starr, a comic strip character who had flaming red hair and dashing adventures. I also was impacted by a biography of Jane Adams, a Chicago social worker who started a settlement house for refugees. Today, like my early role models, I write, speak and try and help people in the process. I feel very blessed to have a full, vibrant life in which I am always learning and connecting with fascinating people.

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