You read that right. I Eldonna Lewis Fernandez, MSgt USAF Retired, Speaker, Author, Harley Rider, person who does events with theatrics and experiential immersion am an introvert. I think God has a great sense of humor. I believe my gift of speaking is to be used to help people. As an introvert, it’s surprising that I would have this gift but I do and I am robbing people if I don’t use it. I lost a dream to someone else one time by not acting on the vision I was given. That grieved my spirit significantly and taught me a valuable lesson. You better use what you have or it will be given to someone else to accomplish.
What does it mean to be an introvert? It has to do with where you get your energy from. One of the most fundamental characteristics of introverts is that they need time alone to recharge. I get my energy from being alone, in solitude, recharging and reflecting, not from being around people. Because of that I have to consciously manage my energy. If I am speaking at an event or having a booth at a multi day event, I oftentimes will invest in the expense of a hotel room even if it’s local. I don’t stay up late into the night every night of an event connecting and chatting because I need to give my body a break. Otherwise I will be wiped out and it will impact my speaking or ability to connect at the booth. I run my own 3-day training. I am “on” for 3 days plus the day before to set up. I have to hold space for the entire room because I am facilitating and speaking but mostly managing the room. I have to allow myself a day or two after to do nothing, go nowhere other than the beach or spa to get a treatment in order to get my energy back up to speed. If I don’t I will eventually crash and be forced to be still because I get too exhausted. I don’t even go to church, I watch it online because I need to be away from people to recharge.
As far as being able to connect with people and speak the way I do, that is something I have had to work at. I used to be petrified to speak in front of people and
would avoid talking to people because I had a lot of fear of how they would perceive me. That came from the way I grew up and what I believed about myself and other things that happened in my adult life. Most people think I’m an extrovert because of the things I do and the way I am. I’m just proof positive that you can be an introvert and still exude confidence and own your power. It’s why I teach negotiation and leadership. So people can see what is possible.
Networking events were always a challenge for me when I first started out. It was very overwhelming for me to go to big events. I didn’t know where I fit in at first. Networking is a word I don’t like so much these days because it’s become this thing where you take, take, take and don’t take time to really connect. Have you ever been to an event where people just take as many cards as they can and you get added to a list without having had a conversation with the person? I have had people take my cards from my booth and add me to their list without even saying a word to me!
Why do you attend events? Is it for education? Connection? Business? Socialization? I used to attend a lot of events in the past. Now, I only pay to attend events that have a specific business purpose unless I am giving back. Recently, I decided to attend the Harvard Negotiation & Leadership Conference. It was a big investment to attend and go. I wanted to connect with the speakers there and put my footprint in the “bigger” world of negotiation. I’m not an “academic.” I learned my skills and wrote my Think Like a Negotiator book from pure experience. I had a plan of who I wanted to connect with and what I wanted to accomplish. I took every opportunity I could to be seen, heard and connect with people.
I gave away about a dozen books to the speakers and the association president. When I walked into the first session and saw microphones in the aisles I planned to ask questions to be seen and heard. That alone had many people coming up to me and asking about what I did, including the president of the Harvard association putting on the event. The following photo’s are from the conference. It was my first time at Harvard but won’t be my last!
People saw my book in my hand and asked me if I was a speaker. I said “not this year….”
The two photos where I was seated, I was having a conversation with the former Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson. There was a theater full of people and he and I were going back and forth like we were having a private conversation. I would not be able to do this without working on myself and pushing myself. I could have very easily just stayed in the background and not said a word. I could have gone through my entire life like that. I decided I could do something to make a different path for myself.
Even if you are an introvert, you can learn the skills needed not only to be a powerful negotiator but also a confident, powerful person who stands up for themselves in every situation. If I can learn it, so can you. I am proof positive that the Power is in the Work!
Eldonna is available for mentoring. If interested in details and a free 30 minute strategy call email us at firstname.lastname@example.org