Famous introvert people

Famous Introverts and What You Can Learn From Them

It’s common to associate success with “putting yourself out there,” but garnering attention isn’t a telltale sign that someone will be successful. Thanks to a newfound appreciation for quieter success stories, famous introverts can teach you three impactful lessons. First, there isn’t only one type of personality that can attract success. Second, introverted characteristics hold their own power. Third, it’s possible (and suggested) to recognize the traits that may be holding you back and figure out how to change them even a quarter-turn to get out of your own way.

On Being an Introvert

Before we get into the list of famous introverts and what they can teach us, let’s clarify that there’s, of course, nothing wrong with being an introvert. However, introverts are often (and mistakenly) thought to be any or all of the following:

  • Aloof
  • Awkward
  • Loners
  • Nerdy
  • Unfriendly
  • Shy
  • Strange
  • Withdrawn

Truthfully, anyone can possess any of these qualities at some point, introvert or not. You may also feel that you’ve become more of an introvert as you’ve gotten older. This may be because you’re more comfortable spending time alone. Or, maybe your social circle shrunk after college or you have a solo job and you’re secluded during work hours. Whatever it is, strike that list of misinformed qualities from your mind. Focus on the following qualities instead, because loners tend to:

  • Decide quickly what needs to be done and adapt to the circumstances
  • Enjoy their alone time instead of feeling lonely during it
  • Focus on the task at hand without distraction
  • Handle situations independently and responsibly
  • Have fewer friendships, yet they’re deeper, long-term friendships
  • Listen well when others need to talk about something that’s on their mind
  • Need a break and some “me time” after outdoor and/or social activities
  • Prefer modes of communication that are indirect, like texting instead of a phone call
  • Seem unflappable, calm and in control
  • Thrive in one-on-one relationships
  • Think and consider their next move before they act or speak
  • Understand the big picture and how elements connect

Some of these qualities are positive, while others are simply self-aware. None of them are particularly negative, though, or something you should feel like you need to change.

Introverts vs. Extroverts

Business success is about being able to make smart decisions and knowing how to solve problems. For celebrities, success may be about natural talent and a great promotional team behind you. Neither type of success requires a person to be outgoing or even sociable, at least not all the time.

Most people are on an introvert-extrovert spectrum, having a combination of strengths and weaknesses from both categories. Which way you lean has to do with where your energy comes from and what zaps it, though, not how shy you are or how comfortable you feel walking into a room of strangers. Introverts get more energy from being alone than from being with people. Spending time with others can drain that energy and alone time is required to refill the tank. Extroverts are the opposite – they get energy from being around others and start to feel their energy drop when they’re alone.

8 Famous Introverts and What They Can Teach You

It’s surprising to learn that some of the most famous faces are actually introverts at heart. You’d assume that to perform in some way, you’d need an outgoing, extroverted personality. Turns out, that’s not true. Here are 8 famous introverts and the lessons you can learn from them.

1. Albert Einstein

Not only is Einstein one of the most famous scientists in history, but he was also a known introvert. Leaning into his introverted nature, Einstein believed that his creativity and success came from keeping to himself. He said, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”

The Lesson: Time spent in solitude may provide the space you need to create.

Your Turn: Carve out time for yourself where all that’s on the agenda is creative thinking or working. If you don’t know where to start, meditate to see where your mind wanders or set a timer for 15 minutes of freewriting.

2. Bill Gates

Bill Gates has said that introverts can be successful by recognizing and taking advantage of their particular strengths. For example, take time to yourself to think and come up with ideas. Then, by combining those strengths with what extroverts do best (such as by hiring extroverts at your company), you can tap into both sets of skills to thrive. It’s also interesting to note that Gates is an introvert, but he’s not shy, which is a reminder that most people have some introvert and extrovert qualities that exist simultaneously.

The Lesson: Extroverts are not better than introverts, and vice versa. Instead, both personality types have their pros and cons, and businesses need both types of people to be successful.

Your Turn: Pinpoint a weakness that’s standing in your way, then create a plan of action to fix it. That can mean outsourcing work, like marketing or sales, to someone who does it better or figuring out how to improve that weakness in yourself, like by taking public speaking classes.

3. Eleanor Roosevelt

Since she’s known for being a public person thanks to her entertaining, lectures and press conferences, it’s surprising to learn that Eleanor Roosevelt was actually an introvert. Roosevelt believed that having a friendship with yourself is important, because only then can you be a friend to others.

The Lesson: An early life that forces you into solitude can lead to growing into a compassionate adult who’s sensitive to people’s differences.

Your Turn: Pick out three introvert characteristics you like, then make a point to compliment three people for possessing those same traits. You’ll see how being an introvert can actually connect you to others instead of keeping you in seclusion.

4. Elon Musk

Elon Musk said that it took him a lot of time and practice to get comfortable with going up on stage and speaking clearly, but that as the head of a company, it’s something you have to learn how to do.

The Lesson: Similar to the Bill Gates lesson, Musk’s experience as an introvert provides encouragement to unearth the introverted quality that’s standing in your way and do your best to change it.

Your Turn: Research the problem you’re facing, whether it’s public speaking, making one-on-one conversation with strangers or appearing approachable at networking events. Arming yourself with knowledge is an essential first step out of the problem.

5. Emma Watson

In an interview with Rookie, actress Emma Watson talked about how people applaud her for not being a party girl, especially in such a party-centric industry. Her response is that she’s not trying to be known as a non-party girl, but instead she’s just a natural introvert who isn’t into that scene. She also talks about how she once thought something was wrong with her because she wasn’t an extrovert. Eventually, though, she realized her introverted-ness wasn’t something to be ashamed of.

The Lesson: Embracing your introverted qualities can lead you to be the person you want to be, and without much effort.

Your Turn: Think about one of your introverted traits you’re ashamed of or embarrassed by, then list all of the ways it’s actually benefited you. Brainstorm how that trait can help you succeed moving forward.

6. J.K. Rowling

Introverts are often their most creative when left alone. J.K. Rowling is a great example of this – it’s well-known that she dreamt up Harry Potter when taking a solo train trip. Plus, her pen wouldn’t work, but she was too shy to ask a stranger to borrow one, opting to compose the story in her head.

The Lesson: Even being painfully shy around others doesn’t have to get in the way of your ability to move forward. Actually, it can be helpful, allowing you to hyper-focus. Rowling has said, “I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.

Your Turn: Instead of throwing in the towel when one thing stands in your way, keep going with the work that’s most important. You’re allowed to avoid the thing that scares you, so long as you can still succeed without it.

7. Meryl Streep

More actors than you realize are introverts, including Academy Awards winner Meryl Streep. To get through occasions where she can’t keep to herself, she uses visualization and tells herself that her mother would be able to get through the situation. When speaking with Michelle Obama, Streep said, “It’s a good thing, to imagine yourself doing something you think you can’t.”

The Lesson: You’re not chained to the introverted qualities that hold you back, and fear is sometimes there to be pushed through.

Your Turn: Play pretend. The next time you’re in a situation that feels threatening, like having to collaborate with coworkers, act as though you’re someone else, a person you admire who performs well in that type of setting. It will feel uncomfortable, but you’ll show yourself that nothing terrible happens when you’re a bit more outgoing, especially if the situation requires you to be.

8. Warren Buffet

Warren Buffet, one of the richest people in the world and a highly respected leader in the financial industry, had to put extra time and effort into figuring out how to connect with people. Part of his success is due specifically to his preference for solitude, though – it’s given him the focus needed to become an expert. According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Buffet’s introverted personality, namely his ability to think clearly and act wisely when other people often panic, is what has kept him on top.

The Lesson: Being an introvert may put you in a better position to recognize a warning sign of failure and act on it appropriately. Cooler heads prevail.

Your Turn: When a problem is looming, don’t join the masses in their panic. Retreat to think the problem through and to make a smart decision – this is where introverts shine their brightest. Adam McHugh of Quiet Revolution agrees, writing, “Because we do our best work in solitude, creative introverts may be less reliant on established norms and more able to see and hear new things.”

Final Thoughts

There’s no reason for an introvert to force themselves to become an extrovert (and it probably wouldn’t work, anyway). What you can do is take note of extroverted personality traits you admire. Then, work on developing them more, possibly even turning to your introvert-specific traits to help you. For example, if you know you need alone time after a social gathering, allow yourself that alone time to recharge. You may then feel energetic and confident enough to be open, warm and talkative the next time you’re surrounded by people.

Overall, remember that people aren’t all one thing – you’re not all introvert or all extrovert. You can accept or adapt whatever characteristics you want to create your own personality, regardless of how it’ll be labeled.

How has being an introvert helped you succeed? You may also want to check out this article about Why Being Resilient is Essential to Success.

Featured image via StockSmartStart / shutterstock.com

13 Famous Introverts Who Could Teach Us a Thing or Two About Success

By Alexandra Hough

Published Oct 18, 2022

When it comes to famous and powerful individuals, it’s common to associate traits like being outgoing or extroverted with their success. However, as we all know, thriving as the center of attention isn’t actually necessary for becoming well accomplished in life. In fact, there are many famous individuals throughout history (and even some of the biggest stars today) who are shy, quiet and prefer to live their lives out of the spotlight. Keep reading for 13 famous introverts, from Nelson Mandela to Meryl Streep.

George Rinhart / GEtty Images

1. Eleanor Roosevelt

Perhaps one of the biggest public personas in history (she gave over 348 press conferences as First Lady, after all), Roosevelt was actually known to enjoy keeping to herself.

Her official online White House bio refers to her as “a shy, awkward child, who grew into a woman with great sensitivity to the underprivileged of all creeds, races and nations.”

Bettmann / Getty Images

2. Rosa Parks

You’d probably imagine someone who refuses to give up their seat on a bus to a white man to be outgoing and extroverted. However, this was not the case with activist, Rosa Parks.

Author Susan Cain wrote in the introduction of her book, Quiet: The Power Of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, “When she [Parks] died in 2005 at the age of 92, the flood of obituaries recalled her as soft-spoken, sweet, and small in stature. They said she was 'timid and shy' but had 'the courage of a lion.' They were full of phrases like 'radical humility' and 'quiet fortitude.’”

Michael Cohen / Getty Images

3. Bill Gates

The founder of Microsoft may know a thing or two about being successful even when you’re not the most outspoken. When asked about competing in a world of extroverts, Gates stated that he believes introverts can “do quite well.” “If you’re clever you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert.”

VALERIE MACON / Getty Images

4. Meryl Streep

Maybe a big Hollywood actress isn’t the first person who comes to mind when you think of introverts. However, it’s clear this personality trait hasn’t held Streep back from becoming a three-time Academy Award winner.

Bettmann / GEtty Images

5. Albert Einstein

One of the greatest scientists in history, Einstein believed that his creativity came from keeping to himself. The physicist has often been quoted as saying, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”

Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

6. J.K. Rowling

The author may owe part of her Harry Potter success to her shyness. Turns out, Rowling was on a delayed train when she got the idea for the novels, according to a post on her website.

“I had never been so excited about an idea before. To my immense frustration, I didn't have a pen that worked, and I was too shy to ask anybody if I could borrow one…," she wrote. "I did not have a functioning pen with me, but I do think that this was probably a good thing. I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, while all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn't know he was a wizard became more and more real to me.”

Aaron Rapoport / Getty Images

7. Dr. Seuss

Also known as Theodor Geisel, the author who created the magical words of the Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Green Eggs and Ham was rather timid in real life. In her book, Cain described Geisel as someone who “was afraid of meeting the kids for fear that they would be disappointed at how quiet he was.”

MARK RALSTON /Getty Images

8. Steven Spielberg

Spielberg has openly admitted that he would prefer to spend his weekends watching movies alone rather than go out anywhere. This is probably why he’s so good at making them and has produced hits such as E.T., Jaws, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Schindler’s List.

Universal History Archive / Getty Images

9. Charles Darwin

According to reports, Darwin thoroughly enjoyed solitude and preferred working alone most of the time. Although he occasionally displayed some extroverted traits, he preferred secluded hobbies such as breeding pigeons and, of course, studying the patterns of animals.

Albert L. Ortega / getty images

10. Christina Aguilera

With an onstage persona like Christina Aguilera’s, its hard to believe that she’s not an extrovert. In an interview with Marie Claire, she described herself as “intense and introverted” and the reporter revealed it was almost hard to recognize the singer based off of her shy and quiet personality.

Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

11. Emma Watson

Watson identified herself as an introvert during an interview with Rookie Magazine. “It’s interesting, because people say things to me like, ‘It’s really cool that you don’t go out and get drunk all the time and go to clubs,’ and I’m just like, I mean, I appreciate that, but I’m kind of an introverted kind of person just by nature, it’s not like a conscious choice that I’m making necessarily,” she told the outlet. “It’s genuinely who I am.”

ullstein bild Dtl. /Getty IMages

12. Audrey Hepburn

A self-proclaimed introvert, the British actress once said: “I'm an introvert...I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.”

LEON NEAL / Getty Images

13. Nelson Mandela

In his autobiography, Mandela referred to himself as an introvert. He mentioned that he preferred observing during African National Congress meetings rather than participating. “I went as an observer, not a participant, for I do not think that I ever spoke,” he stated. “I wanted to understand the issues under discussion, evaluate the arguments, see the caliber of the men involved.

Welcome to the World of Introverts They rubbed themselves into trust and sought promotions, relationships and got away with it. They made others laugh and drank beer with bosses and colleagues.

Even if you do a “better” job, this is not a guarantee that you will be promoted. The position/girlfriend/home/best piece of the pie went to the loudest and most charming.

But now we are witnessing a tectonic shift.

  • Highly paid positions are more likely to be obtained by people who tend to do intellectual work alone.
  • One-to-one chatting has become less important due to online work, in which the most important thing is the skill of self-motivation.
  • Date success depends on a witty phrase in a dating app, not on the ability to "hook" someone in a bar.

Thanks to technology, the world has turned towards introverts. It is to be expected that a similar shift will take place in the realm of wealth and power.

Look at the richest people in the world.

Belfort Jordans and Bill Clintons have been replaced by Zuckerbergs and Jeff Bezos.

Quiet nerds today are considered a new generation of power and wealth. Why? Because it most likely will.

Many of the highest paying jobs require solo work, focus, and technical skills, all of which are easier for introverts.

Medical schools require long periods of study alone. Engineering and software development require analytical work and a love of problem solving.

In the meantime, lucrative and extroverted positions such as financial advisor and lawyer are slowly becoming obsolete due to automation and new inventions like blockchain.

On a smaller scale, according to the study, the ability to have a confidential conversation and maintain a positive attitude still contributes to the acceleration of the career of extroverts.

Although technical knowledge and self-motivation are more important for success in today's world, closeness to the boss, colleagues and company owners still dominates.

The stock market, too, is increasingly dominated by information technology companies, often led by introverted tech founders.

In 2020, old guard companies like Ford, Clorox, Southwest Airlines, ViacomCBS, and Nordstrom dropped out of the S&P 500 and were replaced by Tesla, Etsy, and three other information technology companies.

The boards of the most important companies are dominated by introverts.

Although many of the richest people on the planet are considered introverts, people attribute their success to the ability to promote themselves and their companies, and these are characteristics of extroverts.

The most successful introverts - Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett - have either mastered the skills of extroverts or hire extroverts.

“If you are smart, then you can learn to use the advantages of being an introvert, for example, the opportunity to take a break for a few days and think about a difficult problem […]. And when you come up with something, you need to hire people, captivate them, build a company around the idea. Then you better learn what extroverts can do, you better hire extroverts.” — Bill Gates

Elon Musk is considered an introvert, but that doesn't stop him from making PR stunts, from tweets grabbing the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission to appearing on an SNL show. Bill Gates called for hiring extroverts to sell products and build teams.

World Trade Center September 2020.

Even in tech jobs, chatting with your boss and creating a positive environment among your colleagues helps you climb up the food chain. But how will everything change if there is no office?

In short, we don't know. We've only been in a work-from-home experiment for a year, meaning there's still very little research on changes in promotion and recognition.

But one thing we know for sure about working from home is that introverts like it a lot more.

Extroverts who experience positive emotions in the office were hit hard in March 2020, when most white-collar workers switched to working from home. Gone were the opportunities for spontaneous communication, building friendships in the office, and talking near the cooler.

When you work remotely, your true "work" becomes as visible as possible. And under such conditions, introverts are more likely to thrive.

Introverts enjoy working from home more than extroverts; in addition, being away from a noisy office can increase their productivity.

Of course, remote work from home, when spouses and children are nearby, can also be a disaster for introverts. But the farther people move from urban centers to the suburbs, and the more convenient remote jobs become, the greater the advantage for introverts.

Mutual understanding is still in the first place, only it has changed.

Some research suggests that Zoom meetings can be more tiring than live meetings, making it even harder for introverts.

In addition, consistent, clear, and constructive communication on Slack with colleagues is an art in itself and is probably easier for those who enjoy talking more.

The higher you climb the career ladder, the more important communication becomes.

Good leaders still have to participate in team building, even in companies where the emphasis is on remote work. Perhaps this will still favor extroverts and ambiverts.

Interesting Fact : Study found that women experience more fatigue from Zoom than men, likely due to how it affects self-esteem.

High-paying professions favor those who enjoy solving problems alone and learning.

Our workplace is now at home, which reduces the opportunities for networking and social interactions that make extroverts feel better.

The last nail in the extroverts' coffin was online dating.

Before COVID-19, approximately 40% of people met their partners online.

In 1990, 20% of people met their partners at work. According to a study conducted by Stanford University, by 2020 this number has dropped to 11%. With the increase in the share of remote jobs, this number will continue to decline.

While online dating still requires communication, the new rules have changed the dynamic: dating apps favor those who can come up with witty short phrases, rather than those who are inclined to shamelessly strike up acquaintances with potential partners in bars or offices.

Some dating apps, notably Bumble, also put more power in the hands of women with the “women write first” rule.

Online dating doesn't stay online for long. At some point, virtual couples meet live and expect an interesting conversation from each other, and not just texts.

However, virtually starting a relationship can make dating easier for introverts . You initially know that another person wants to meet you .

Online dating gives you a chance to share who you are and get comfortable in communicating with another person.

Also, don't compete in a live meeting for someone's attention or make some kind of offer without knowing if the other person is interested. Not getting a message back is easier than getting a live rejection.

Like most major trends, from the epidemic of loneliness to the rise of ill-fated cities like Phoenix, the benefits of introverts have been gradual but are now evident to all.

Technology will have a huge impact on who is in power.

For most of human history, extroverts have dominated business and society, thanks in part to the introverts' inconspicuous work. But today, thanks to new professions, work modes and dating rules, introverts are gaining an advantage.

Judging by who the richest people are and which companies grow the fastest, extroverts will work for introverts. Moreover, the perfect combination of both will become the social ideal in business and relationships.

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12 famous introverts, whose isolation did not prevent them from achieving world fame / AdMe

Public figures, being constantly under the close attention of the press and fans, it would seem that they should enjoy this and, by default, be open and talkative. However, some of them admit that they are introverts by nature and an increased interest in them seriously weighs them down. At the same time, the ability to dive deep into their inner world allows stellar introverts to easily get used to any role.

Bright Side found the most famous introverts, whose isolation did not prevent them from becoming famous all over the world and winning the love of millions of fans.

12. Keanu Reeves

©Eastnews, ©Eastnews

Keanu Reeves' introversion has become the subject of many memes. A few years ago, Time magazine called the actor "Hollywood's biggest introvert." A successful actor does not hide his nature behind a mask and himself admits that he has always been a loner and does not like noisy companies, preferring solitude or the company of his closest ones. So, he celebrated his 50th birthday together with his sister.

11. Johnny Depp

© Eastnews, © Eastnews

Most of Johnny's roles are reserved characters, which in many ways reflect the traits of the actor himself, avoiding excessive attention. Edward Scissorhands, Willy Wonka, Barnabas Collins the vampire, Sweeney Todd the hairdresser, you could go on and on. Maybe that's the secret to great role-playing - being yourself. The actor admits that he is very shy, but his profession obliges him to be in the spotlight.

10. Audrey Hepburn

© Breakfast at Tiffany's / Paramount Pictures Corporation

The star of Hollywood's golden age has said time and again that her role as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's was the hardest in her career. “I am an introvert. Playing an extroverted girl turned out to be the most difficult thing I have ever done, ”the actress admitted. Closed nature, however, did not prevent Hepburn from being a famous philanthropist and helping those in need around the world.

9. Meryl Streep

© Eastnews, © Eastnews

It's hard to believe, but Meryl Streep, known for her images of principled and sometimes tough women, also calls herself an introvert. According to the actress, she loves loneliness, and in her work she constantly has to overcome her fear of the camera.

8. Salma Hayek

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The Mexican actress, known for her passionate and daring images, admits that she is very shy by nature and is afraid of the stage and performing in front of a mass audience . And if she brilliantly manages to overcome her fears in front of the camera, then the actress compares work for the open public with deathly torture.

7. Jessica Simpson

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Once the singer admitted to her fans that she was very shy since childhood, but she struggles with it all her life. The stage and film roles have become a great way for Jessica to cope with the fear of communication and shyness, which the singer considers shortcomings.

6. Courteney Cox

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The Friends star revealed in an interview that she is an introvert and prefers to hang out at home with her closest friends over social events. According to the actress, the difference in temperament at one time became one of the reasons for their separation from her husband David Arquette, who loves to communicate and spend time outside the home.

5. Zayn Malik

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A few years ago, the British performer admitted in an interview that fame is not easy for him because of the mandatory attendance at social events. As a shy nature, he is tired of the obsessive attention of the public. According to Zane, it is the image of the "bad guy" that allows him to hide his insecurities and shyness.

4. Lady Gaga

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The outrageous singer calls herself an introvert and admits that immersion in the world of music and her own creativity seems more interesting to her than Hollywood fame. Perhaps all this theatrical make-up, feathers, spikes and wigs is the only way for her to protect her inner world from strangers.

Psychologists say that it is easier for introverts to shock the public, because, unlike extroverts, they are not very interested in what others think of them.

3. Blake Lively

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Despite the fact that the actress became famous thanks to the Gossip Girl series, she has almost nothing in common with her heroine. By her own admission, Blake is not a fan of noisy parties and has always been very modest and shy. Like any introvert, the actress needs a lot of time to make friends with someone, and she prefers to spend her free time doing a very domestic activity - cooking.

2. JK Rowling

© Eastnews, © Eastnews

A successful writer often repeats in her interviews that she is an introvert and only with the advent of world fame does she manage to gradually loosen up. Perhaps it was the inherent ability of introverts to better express their thoughts in writing that allowed her to achieve such success in the writing field.

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