Tag Archives: introverts

Adam Cuppy: Building Confidence in your Soft Skills



Adam Cuppy is the Chief Operating Officer at Zeal, a web and mobile apps development company.  He is also an actor.  He helps Zeal focus on how process drives success.  He says he has “no idea” of what he does.  Already, you can tell this is an entertaining episode.  Really what he focuses on is business development, evangelism, speaking nationally and internationally on confidence and process-driven team development and how to apply the soft side of life into the highly technical side of life.

Highlights:

Q: As an actor, what draws you to high tech?

“I went to college for acting and worked for a large regional theater company in a small town in Oregon, called the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  While I was there, I learned a lot about general human psychology.  As an actor, your job is about simulating and replicating the responses and reactions that a fictitious human being would have in a given situation.  You learn a lot about the human physicality and the general patterns they follow in life.  I was really fascinated and loved it a lot.’

“However, the profession of acting is a really tough one, to say the least.  A more senior actor told me that every three months he didn’t know what would be next.  That wasn’t for me.  While I was totally into the art form, the profession was not for me.”

“I went from psychology to psychology–acting to marketing.  I took what I learned as an actor to understand what and how someone might interpret what they saw in an ad or something.  Being in marketing, you’re dealing with computer systems and minimal applications development.  That took me down the path of websites and web apps, and here we are.”

Q: How do you make connections with nerds?

“Sometimes making connections comes down to very simple things, like identifying as quickly as you can what do you share, what do you know?  Sometimes there’s some basic stuff.  It might even be cliché, like family.  We all have parents!  Most often, you have siblings.

Building rapport quickly might be as simple as not introducing yourself as, ‘Hi, my name is Adam and I have a brother,’ but something simple like finding a unique story that you can tell consistently that is not overwhelming, is quick to get to, and might be a good conversation starter.”

Q: What is your method to help technical people develop confidence in their soft skills?

“It’s called Mechanical Confidence.  We take for granted that, if you’re an actor, you rehearse.  The standard time is 4-6 weeks of rehearsal.  The only reason you do that is to embed the movement and text into your body so that it’s automatic on opening night.”

“Every actor, musician, and technical person will have a process that creates this confidence in their body.  Having gone on stage so many times, it’s become automatic for me.  It’s a very logical, mechanical, procedural thing.  It’s not a feeling.”

To hear Adam’s process, listen to the episode.

Words of Wisdom:

“To keep your audience engaged, find something small and physical to make the audience do.”

“Habits are incredibly powerful.”

“Talk to your dog (or cat or rubber duck).”

“Don’t presume chaos will get you there.”

Contact Adam Cuppy:

Twitter: @AdamCuppy

Email: Adam@codingzeal.com


Alex Balazs: The Benefits of Inclusive Leadership



Joanie interviews Alex Balazs, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect at Intuit.  Alex shares the story of his transformation from being a quiet engineer to becoming a communicative leader.  He also shares his insights on inclusion and describes how he is supportive of women in tech.  Being inclusive is key for Alex and he shares why.  He is also on the Board of Lead Inclusively, Inc., a company that helps companies be more inclusive.  We cover a lot in this episode, so be sure to listen to the end.

Highlights:

Q: Tell us the story of how you came to work at Intuit.

“I was born in Ohio and was raised in the Midwest. I always had this feeling that I needed to expand my horizons.  Post graduate, I moved to Northern California and worked for Carl Zeiss.  My first professional program language was Assembly.  I went to work for a startup in Boston and it didn’t work out, but a mentor from Carl Zeiss had just bought a small startup called Intuit and invited me to interview.  I started at Intuit in 1999.”

Q: How did you branch out of being a quiet engineer?

“I was a total introvert growing up.  I was always confident in my personal ability but didn’t know how to communicate.  There was a dissonance between what I felt I could say and what I felt was coming out of my mouth.  And it led me to not say things.  I was afraid I would say something stupid.  I felt the need to be the smartest person in the room and if I didn’t feel I was then I didn’t say anything.”

“There were a couple of events in my early Intuit career where my leadership moved on.  This was the leadership that was responsible for communicating to the rest of Intuit and figuring out which projects we should be working on.  When they all left, I said, ‘Now what am I supposed to do?’  I felt really sorry for myself.  I was afraid. I was angry.  I was upset.  And suddenly I just said, ‘This is an opportunity for me, and I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to transform myself into someone who can communicate.’  Through that process I learned that I had to start putting myself out there.”

“The last part of the transformation for me was the transformation from hoping I was the smartest person in the room to expecting I was the dumbest person in the room.”

Q: How does surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you improve your leadership?

“I do think as you get into leadership roles, it is the only way to be successful.  I’ve seen leaders who’ve tried to be leaders and the smartest person in the room, and it doesn’t work.  Smart people don’t want to work for you.  Smart people with ideas don’t want to speak up.  As an engineer, your job is to assert and to take up space.  I realized as a leader, my job is to create space so that other people can step into that space.”

“And when I did that, the notion of introvert/extrovert became a misnomer.  It wasn’t necessarily about me becoming an extrovert.  It was about me bringing in diverse thought and viewpoints from everyone, including many engineers who are introverts.”

To hear Alex’s tips on how to bring in introverts, how he is inclusive of all diverse people, and how he supports women in tech, listen to the episode.

Words of Wisdom:

“Think of three concentric circles: your comfort zone, your learning zone, and your panic zone.  The only way to make your comfort zone bigger is to get into your learning zone.”

“Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.”

“I don’t know how a company can survive without being diverse.”

“Working for tech companies, we actually have privilege.”

Contact Alex Balazs:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexgbalazs/

Twitter: @alexgbalazs


Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker: Communicating Science to Non-Scientists



Joanie interviews Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker, an evolutionary biologist, business consultant, author, and speaker.  Dr. Tamsin helps companies look to nature for sustainable business solutions but not necessarily in the way you would think.  Tune in for an extremely interesting episode of Reinventing Nerds.

Highlights:

Q: How do you bring evolutionary biology to companies?

“I ask myself, ‘How would nature design a company?’”

Q: How do you communicate with non-scientists?

“As scientists, everything is hypothesis driven.  For laypeople, it’s not.  We’re hardwired to tell stories. I try to meet people where they’re at and bring them on a journey to a different world.”

Q: What have you done to improve your communication skills as you moved from doctorate candidate to keynote speaker?

“Letting go of details while still being accurate.”

Q: What’s your biggest challenge with people skills?

“I’m an introvert and I talk a lot about collaboration.  Tamsin also helps other introverts collaborate.”  To learn how, listen to the podcast…

Words of Wisdom from Dr. Tamsin:

“A lot of people were traumatized by science classes.”

“Ants aren’t sitting in traffic.”

Contact Tasmin:

Website: DrTamsin.com
Twitter: BioInspired_Ink
FB: Dr. Tamsin
LinkedIn: Tamsin Woolley-Barker