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Putting Yourself in the Right Lighting: Personality Types & Business

The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers – of persistence, concentration, and insight – to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply.

— Susan Cain, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”
 Photo by  Tori Petrillo

Photo by Tori Petrillo

As a creative small business owner, especially in a field like wedding photography where personal connection to my clients is HUGE, personality plays an important role in my business. And running my business in a way that works with my personality strengths, helps to build a successful business that attracts my ideal clients and allows me to serve them well.

Sometimes we have preconceived ideas about what our personality type is because of course we know ourselves better than anyone else, right? Not necessarily. Before I read Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, I didn’t fully realize what being an introvert meant. (You can check the book out here: this link to the book is an Amazon affiliate link! But how ever you get your hands on it, I highly recommend reading it!) For my whole life other people would tell me I was timid because I didn’t speak out in a big group conversation, or that because I can be kind of quiet, I was a shy person. But that never felt quite right to me. I was afraid to talk to people…I LOVE people! I love deep conversations, learning about peoples’ stories, and finding genuine connections with others!

There’s a good reason “shy” and “timid” never felt like me. If we get all Merriam-Webster about it, shy is actually defined as “easily frightened.” Timid is “lacking in courage or self-confidence.” The fact that I really enjoy listening and absorbing, and that in large group conversations I chime in only when I have something of value to add, doesn’t actually me timid. And because I would rather get together with a small group of my closest friends than a room full of acquaintances, that doesn’t make me shy. What it does say about me, is that I’m an introvert! (Any other INFJs in the house?! If you don’t know your personality type this test here is a good one to take!)

I did some research about what it means to be an introvert, and I learned that the key difference between introversion and extroversion is where you get your energy from. Extroverts feel energized when they’re surrounded by others, whereas an introvert’s energy is drained by those situations. (Super interesting, right?) And it’s not that introverts dislike spending time with people – not by any stretch! But knowing this energy tidbit, I know how to recharge my batteries after a weekend full of weddings. Sometimes that means driving home in silence after a wedding, with no music playing in the car – just enjoying the quiet. Or spending a day at home with my furbaby. Having ways to recharge that energy, gets me ready for my next set of engagement sessions or weddings!

Digging even deeper into my specific personality type, INFJ, lots of things rang pretty true: that I’m creative and passionate. I can be a more private person, and I can also be sensitive & a perfectionist workaholic. But something super important that really resonated, is that being an INFJ, I know it fills me up to have deep, meaningful connections with people. I need more than surface level connection to feel really good. Knowing that about myself, I can make sure I structure my business in a way that is super fulfilling for me. For weddings it has become a crucial part of my client experience, that I strive to become friends with all of my clients. I want to have a personal connection with them, I want to know their story, and create an atmosphere around our time together where they feel that personal connection as well. For my mentoring clients, I LOVE working one on one with photographers. That’s the stuff that brings me joy: sitting down together getting to know you and your business, and working together to strategize and grow! 

 Photos by Tori Petrillo

Photos by Tori Petrillo

So friends, I want to encourage you to take a personality test, or three. Read a few books. Spend some real honest time in self-reflection. Knowing more about yourself and understanding what situations you thrive in is so valuable and worth the time investment. As Susan Cain said, it’s all about putting yourself in the right lighting. Recognizing your strengths and putting them to work is a crucial part of building a successful, authentic business. Being true to your personality and playing to your strengths will attract clients, friends, and a tribe that will resonate with that. And that will always be more powerful than trying to be someone else.


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