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This introverted CEO says the workplace is built for extroverts—she uses these 2 simple strategies to thrive

By | Annika Kim Constantino |

The workplace is built for extroverts, says Deb Liu: Your success is often tied to your ability to share, speak up, connect and lead others.

She’d know — Liu, the CEO of $4.7 billion consumer genealogy business, describes herself as distinctly introverted. She graduated from engineering school with honors “practically without speaking at all,” she tells CNBC Make It. Hard work, Liu says, was enough to get by.

Then, she attended Stanford business school, where class participation was sometimes worth 50% of her grade — mimicking many workplaces, where your ability to make yourself seen or heard can often correlate with your success.

“That’s when I realized I needed to figure this out,” Liu says.

Her solution was to treat extroversion like a practicable skill rather than an unattainable personality trait, she says. At Stanford, that meant setting small goals for herself, like speaking up at least three times per week in a given class. She kept practicing at her first tech job in 2002, as a senior product manager at PayPal.

Ultimately, Liu credits her extrovert training — a self-prescribed plan to help herself become more comfortable and confident engaging with others — to her career success. She held executive or product executive roles at PayPal, eBay and Facebook before becoming Ancestry’s CEO last year.

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