www.colettesymanowitz.com

Perspectives on entrepreneurship, MBA-related issues, networking, personal branding, technology, investing, education and more…


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A R1.2bn pot of toxic soup at EOH

Eight people. That’s all. Just eight people out of EOH’s staff of 11,500 put the entire firm at risk through a systematic process of fraud, corruption and bribery that saw R1.2bn of shady flow out of the company between 2014 and 2017. EOH believes it has stopped the rot. Only time will tell. https://blog.fraudcracker.com/a-r1-2bn-pot-of-toxic-soup-at-eoh/

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Forensic probe uncovers R1.2bn in suspicious transactions at EOH

According to an update today, law firm ENSafrica has found evidence of and is investigating R1.2bn in suspicious transactions at EOH. These may be valid transactions, theft or bribery and corruption payments. Yesterday EOH announced the resignations of 3 top execs. Find out more at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/forensic-probe-uncovers-r1-2bn-in-suspicious-transactions-at-eoh/


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4 ways lying becomes the norm at a company

How did lying become the norm at firms like VW? Four organisation-wide factors predict if people in a company will lie or not: lack of strategic clarity, unjust accountability systems, poor organisational governance, weak cross-functional collaboration. Find out more at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/4-ways-lying-becomes-the-norm-at-a-company/


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Medical aid schemes caught in a vice between fraud and claims of racial profiling

Fraud against medical aid schemes is a big problem worldwide. But in South Africa, there is another aspect to the issue. And that is race. An organisation for medical professionals has accused SA’s top medical aids of racial profiling in their fight against medical aid fraud. Find out more at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/medical-aid-schemes-caught-in-a-vice-between-fraud-and-claims-of-racial-profiling/


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Are you ready to fight fraud?

Strengthening the internal control system and the control environment will help reduce the likelihood of fraud happening as well as the impact of fraud, if it occurs. 49% of respondents in the 2018 PwC Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey said their companies had experienced fraud or economic crime, compared to 36% in 2016. Read more at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/are-you-ready-to-fight-fraud/


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This is a WhatsApp whistleblowing message. I don’t know how else to do it

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In 2016, out of desperation while on a pilgrimage in France, former SAA treasurer Cynthia Stimpel sent a WhatsApp to National Treasury, warning them of a dirty deal in the making at SAA. It was ignored. They had blocked her at every turn, but Stimpel was relentless in her efforts to stop a R15b cash-raising deal from being pulled off outside of due process – and with the help of BnP Capital as transaction adviser for R225m – while South African banks could do it for +/-R85m. Stimpel was fired for standing up to corruption. Find out more at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/this-is-a-whatsapp-whistleblowing-message-i-dont-know-how-else-to-do-it/


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KPMG fallout: cheating allegations raise new questions

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After new allegations of KPMG cheating on internal training tests, audit committees now have questions about their external auditors’ own adherence to standards: are controls in place, are they well-designed, and are they operating effectively? Find out more at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/kpmg-fallout-cheating-allegations-raise-new-questions/


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Record number of CEOs fired for ethical lapses

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A record 18% of CEOs in the top 2500 global public companies were replaced in 2018, with 39% fired for ethical lapses. This is according to a PwC study released May2019, It’s the 1st time in the study’s history that ethical lapses led the causes of CEO turnover. Read more at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/record-number-of-ceos-fired-for-ethical-lapses/


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Create a workplace where everyone feels comfortable speaking up

It’s vital for employees to voice their concerns when they see something worrying or unethical. But how do you make everyone understand that their voice is valued? Find out at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/create-a-workplace-where-everyone-feels-comfortable-speaking-up/


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Survey finds fraud causing financial loss in almost half of businesses

undefined Occupational fraud and abuse are causing financial losses in half of all businesses, a survey from Mazars finds. The average loss per company surveyed, exceeded €10,000 (US$11,167 or ZAR160,362). Read more at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/survey-finds-fraud-causing-financial-loss-in-almost-half-of-firms/


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Bullying and sexual harassment rife in the legal profession

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Bullying and sexual harassment are rampant in the legal profession. This is according to the International Bar Association (IBA)’s global survey of nearly 7,000 legal professionals in 135 countries. Read more at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/bullying-and-sexual-harassment-rife-in-the-legal-profession/


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If your company is going through a public scandal should you leave?

If you’re working at a Gupta-tainted company like KPMG, and they’re going through a public scandal, here’s the big question: should you stick it out, or should you leave? Find out more at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/if-your-company-is-going-through-a-public-scandal-should-you-leave/


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Theranos whistleblower Erika Cheung on what went wrong and what’s next

Whistleblower Erika Cheung was key to the spectacular downfall of Silicon Valley blood-testing darling, Theranos. She stayed only 7 months before exiting, but not before uncovering massive fraud in Theranos’ blood-testing process. Read more at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/theranos-whistleblower-erika-cheung-on-what-went-wrong-and-whats-next/


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Sterling’s dark, dirty secret: a culture of sexual harassment and unequal pay for women

For 1000s of women, Sterling Inc., America’s largest jewellery retailer, was rife with sexual harassment, unequal pay and discrimination. But how did such a big, publicly traded firm keep this a secret for 14 years? Find out more at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/sterlings-dark-dirty-secret-a-culture-of-sexual-harassment-and-unequal-pay-for-women/


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P&G puts ad platforms like Facebook, Google on notice for fraud, harmful content, etc.

P&G blasted Facebook, Google, etc. for fraud, privacy breaches, harmful content next to ads, etc. P&G which spends billions of dollars on marketing products every year, wants to move its money to services that are free of toxic content. Find out more at
https://blog.fraudcracker.com/pg-puts-ad-platforms-like-facebook-google-on-notice-for-fraud-offensive-content-etc/


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Are patents worth it? Lessons from the $9bn Theranos fraud

In the wake of massive fraud charges, Theranos went from Silicon Valley darling to spectacular shut down in 2018. Yet in 2019 Theranos got 5 new patents! We need patents to boost innovation, but if they are granted to unethical firms, are patents really worth it? Find out more at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/are-patents-worth-it-lessons-from-the-9bn-theranos-fraud/


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Protect yourself against white-collar crime

Thanks to research from GIBS (the Gordon Institute of Business Science, South Africa), companies can use the insights of convicted white-collar criminals to help protect themselves against the growing risk of white-collar crime. Find out more at https://blog.fraudcracker.com/protect-yourself-against-white-collar-crime/


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Today is World Voice Day

Today 16th April is World Voice Day. Your voice matters! This is your day to make your voice heard, to not keep quiet about wrongdoing that you’ve seen, so we can stop perpetrators and make the world a better place for our kids. That’s exactly why we created FraudCracker.com https://blog.fraudcracker.com/today-is-world-voice-day/


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Running a school like it’s a business

Elandspark school pic

This article was published in the 09-October-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

As tech entrepreneurs, my husband and I are passionate about raising our two kids to be entrepreneurs. So we grab every opportunity we find to teach them about business. Sadly, however, the creators of South Africa’s school curricula don’t share our passion for entrepreneurship. Other than theoretical business subjects like Business Studies, Accounting, Consumer Studies, Economics, and Economic Management Studies, there is hardly any entrepreneurial training happening in most of South Africa’s schools. Elandspark School is a refreshing exception and a shining example of how to run a school like a business. Continue reading


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Great to gone to great again: bouncing back

lego-story-animatedThis article was published in the 2-October-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

Markets change. To stay on top, you need to change with them. Economist Joseph Schumpeter spoke about the “perennial gale of creative destruction”, where technological transformation and visionary entrepreneurs give birth to new things that annihilate old things, only to see the next generation obliterate those new things. Some of the most well-known companies in history no longer appear on the Fortune 500 list, having tumbled from great to good to gone from the list—companies like Kodak, Chrysler and Warner Lambert. And, out of the 500 organisations that made it onto the first list in 1955, only 71 were still on the Fortune 500 list in 2008. However, the forces of creative destruction are not unavoidable: not every company must inevitably fall and die. After all, multinationals like Johnson & Johnson, GE and Procter & Gamble have been around for over a hundred years and their positions in the Fortune 500 have climbed. And companies like Lego and Xerox plummeted from their pinnacles, but then turned themselves around from the brink of destruction to become great once again. How did they do it? It comes down to innovation, getting back to basics, and continuously adapting to changing customer needs and changing markets. Continue reading


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Failing forward: How failing can help you succeed

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This article was published in the 18-September-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

Back in 2008, GIBS asked a handful of MBA alumni who were internet entrepreneurs to share our biggest learnings. In all honesty, I don’t remember much about that night or what I talked about to that classroom of aspiring entrepreneurs. But the one thing I do remember as clearly as today, is the three words spoken by my classmate Justin Spratt, at the time running IS Labs. He said: “Launch, then iterate.” His sage advice came long before the global entrepreneurial Lean Start-up movement made this idea trendy. And I still swear by it to this day.

Justin explained “Launch, then iterate” along these lines: get your minimum working product out there fast, get customers using it as quickly as possible, and tweak and improve as you get their feedback. Don’t delay your launch for the day when your offering is perfect, because it will never be perfect, which means you will never launch. And that artificial goal you’re defining as perfection, may be something your customers won’t even want, let alone pay for. So don’t waste time or money building something that you haven’t yet tried out in a scaled-down form with your customers. Continue reading


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The glass is always half-full

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This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 21-Aug-2014 issue

Winston Churchill famously said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” We’ve all been through tough times at some point in our lives. We wouldn’t be human if we hadn’t. For the more resilient ones among us, it is our ability to see the positive in negative situations that helps us get through challenges and to overcome adversity.

I’m a strong believer that things happen because we’re meant to learn from them. If we didn’t have that negative hump to climb over, we wouldn’t recognise the positive staring us right in the face. I like to think of it as the universe (or G-d, depending on your beliefs) throwing you a curveball to test your bounce-back ability and how you can grow from it. And if that setback didn’t happen now, it would have to happen sooner or later, because it was placed in our path so that we could learn from it.

So the big question is: in tough times, instead of dwelling on the negative, shouldn’t we concentrate on how our setbacks transform us and transform our lives for the better? Shouldn’t we seek out the positive and what we’re meant to learn from difficult situations? Continue reading


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Welcome your bigger competitors

big dog vs little dog

This article was published in the 11-September-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

When small businesses take on their bigger competitors, the larger companies usually win, right? In many cases, yes, but there are important exceptions. New research reveals that sometimes it helps, rather than hurts, a smaller firm if consumers see that it is competing against a larger company. In this article, we unpack why and look at the positive implications for small businesses everywhere.

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Business is changing for good

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This article was published in the 4-September-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

Business is changing for good. The days of companies existing only to make money are dying. You don’t have to look far to see the devastating impact that unchecked greed and lust for profit has had on our planet and our lives. From global warming to the financial crisis, it’s everywhere. And so today’s generation are growing up with a conscience, far more aware than their predecessors that they need to look after what we have, to preserve it for their children and their children’s children. Call it conscious capitalism, social good or conscious business. Today’s social entrepreneurs maximise value for all the stakeholders in a business – not only for the shareholders, but also for the bigger community, the employees, suppliers, partners and the environment. Although non-profits and charities have a vital role to play, these 21st century entrepreneurs want to use for-profit business to change the world for the better. Running a profitable, sustainable company and doing good don’t have to fight against each other in business. With conscious capitalism, a profitable business has a purpose far higher than maximizing profits and shareholder value. Continue reading


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Yes, your team can have too much talent

This article was published in the 28-August-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

We’ve all heard the catchphrases thrown around the workplace: the war for talent, managers needing to be talent magnets that attract A-players, and so on. Attracting top talent should be a top priority for competitive companies, because the more talented your team, the better the results you’ll get, right? Wrong. Ground-breaking new research indicates that there is a limit as to how much talent is good for your team. Too much talent can actually hurt, rather than help, you. Here’s why. Continue reading


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Don’t sell to me, solve my problem

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This article was published in the 14-August-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine.

A big bugbear of mine is that most MBA degrees don’t have a component to teach you how to sell. In my work I’ve also met many MBAs who think they are above selling, that it is only the domain of sleazy carsalesmen.

In fact, the opposite is true. You don’t have to be a salesman to be selling. Every day you are selling yourself in some way. Whether you are convincing your boss to give you a raise, your potential client to accept your business proposal, a potential employer to hire you, your spouse to change the TV channel, or your child to do their homework. Effective selling is one of the most vital skills you need to achieve your goals in life and your career. The key is not to call it selling. In the words of Dale Carnegie, rather think of it as “winning people to your way of thinking.”

Here are some useful tips to help you be more effective at persuading customers or clients: Continue reading


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Can you grow a global business from South Africa?

global-business-globe-in-handThis article was published in the 31-July-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

It is widely believed that koi and goldfish can only grow as large as the enclosure they are in. Some grow big and others stay small, it’s all about the size of the pond or bowl.

This got me thinking about businesses in South Africa and the constraints posed by our environment here. Your business can only grow as big as the environment it is in. So if you want to scale, can you do it from South Africa? Continue reading


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Want to make your CV shine? Here’s how

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This article was published in the 17-July-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

Even in today’s web-driven world, your CV is still the single most powerful tool you have in your job search arsenal. If you get it right, it can open doors to new careers and opportunities. Get it wrong and you won’t even make it to the interview stage. Here are some useful tips to help you supercharge your CV. Continue reading


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African Women Chartered Accountants: a growing force in South Africa

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This article was published in the 10-July-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

Chartered Accountancy has long been a male-dominated profession. But that is slowly changing, with the help of the AWCA (African Women Chartered Accountants) forum. In this article we explore the impact this organisation is making on the rise of African women CAs in South Africa. Continue reading


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Start-up versus corporate: which one’s for you?

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This article was published in the 10-July-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

My former boss Kabelo ran his own business before moving into the corporate world. So he had a valuable perspective on both the corporate and the entrepreneurial “be your own boss” environments. At that time I had only ever worked for a large company. One day in the car park we were both admiring a sleek, red Aston Martin convertible. Kabelo roused my interest in the start-up world when he said, “Want to own that car? You won’t do it working here. But you might if you start your own company, because you’ll write your own paycheque. Think about it.” Of course, he hadn’t quite cracked it himself, but his words made a lot of sense.

In this article, we unpack the pros and cons of working in a start-up versus a corporate. Hopefully this will help you decide whether you should work for someone else or start your own business. Continue reading


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What makes you stand out from the crowd?

stand-out-red-apple5This article was published in the 26-June-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

Picture yourself in a client meeting selling your product or service. “What makes you special? Why should we buy from you and not from your competitors?” If you were asked these questions, how would you answer? In a nutshell, this is your Unique Selling Proposition or USP, your stand-out factor. It’s the reason that your product or service is different from and stands out from the competition. In his book “What to do when you want to give up”, South African entrepreneurship guru Allon Raiz describes it as your secret sauce. The question is: so what? In this article, we unpack why you need a secret sauce and how you can find yours. Continue reading


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Starting up: Online or old school?

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This article was published in the 19-June-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine.

If you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and are deciding to start your own business, one of the key factors you need to consider is whether it should be an online business (website) or a physical bricks and mortar business, and why. What makes online such an attractive option compared to bricks and mortar? In this article, we build a strong business case for an online venture. Continue reading


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We all spend our lives selling

This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 5-June-2014 issue.

The uncomfortable truth: Even if we’re not selling for a living, we are all in sales. Get over it. Continue reading


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Can social entrepreneurs make money and do good at the same time?

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This article was published in the 29-May-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

When you hear the words “social entrepreneur”, what image comes to mind? For many of us, it’s the founder of a non-profit organisation (NPO) trying to do good but each month battling to raise enough money to cover their costs, relying on volunteers and unable to pay anyone a salary, including themselves. These untenable organisations hang on precariously from month to month. However, social entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be unprofitable or unsustainable. Author Thomas L. Friedman summed it up brilliantly when he said that social entrepreneurs should  “combine a business school brain with a social worker’s heart.” We unpack some of the misconceptions in this space and speak to two inspiring social entrepreneurs who are running impactful businesses sustainably. Continue reading


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What does Google reveal about businesspeople worldwide?

Our favourite search engine exposes our prejudices.

To find information about anything and everything, Google is the first place most of us head to. The ubiquitous search engine has an autofill feature designed to uncover what people are searching for most often.  Fascinatingly, it can also reveal what people worldwide think about South African businesspeople, and indeed about businesspeople in other countries and continents as a whole. The prejudices exposed make for an eye-opening read. Continue reading


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Courageous leaders face the heat

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This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 8-May-2014 issue

Management super-guru Peter Drucker said: “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” Good leaders aren’t afraid to make tough, unpopular and often counter-intuitive decisions. The decisions that prompt their critics to ask: “What were they thinking?” It is their courage in the face of criticism that makes them the leaders of their organisations, while others aren’t. Continue reading


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Is honesty the best policy?

honesty-interview-cartoonThis article also appeared in Finweek on 25-Apr-2014

For President George Washington, honesty was tremendously important. You’ve probably heard the legendary story when he cut down a cherry tree, and admitted it to his father with the phrase, “I cannot tell a lie.” In his farewell speech of 1796, Washington said: “I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy.” And today as parents we teach this to our children. But is honesty really the best policy? Are we being truthful about the beliefs we stand for, when our culture rewards cheats and liars, and whistle-blowers get penalised? Continue reading


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Go big or go home: lessons for entrepreneurs

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This article was published in the 01-May-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

All entrepreneurs start their businesses dreaming of mega success. But can moderate success lead to a slow, painful death for your start-up? If you achieve some success but don’t fail outright, at what point should you turn around and start again? Finweek unpacks the issues around entrepreneurial turning points and the important lessons they hold for entrepreneurs. Continue reading


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Mental maths: exercise for your brain

 

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This article was published in the 17-Apr-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

Do you hit a mental wall when calculating numbers in your head? You’re not alone. Mental maths doesn’t come easy to everyone and most people find it challenging to master. Why is it important and how can you hone this critical skill? Continue reading


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Can introverts shine as leaders?

This article was published in the 3-March-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

The stereotype that extroverts are more successful or make better leaders than introverts is everywhere. Looking at today’s leaders, you’ll often see this bias in action. We expect them to be charismatic, outgoing and articulate. Usually it is the outgoing sociable person who gets promoted over the introvert, or who plays the role of hero in the movie. With open plan offices and their emphasis on collaborative teamwork, many companies focus on this extroverted bias, making it harder for more introverted people to shine and to grow into leaders. But if you are an introvert, don’t lose hope! In this article, we challenge many of the misconceptions about introverts and share eye-opening examples of famous introverts. Continue reading