What’s it about?

The Genius of Opposites (2015) sheds light on the potential for partnerships between professedly incompatible personality types: extroverts and introverts. This summary sets out five basic steps to turn the most unlikely business partnerships into the most successful.  

About the author:

Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, is an expert on introverts. She has advised organizations such as General Electric and NASA. Kahnweiler has a Ph.D. in counseling and organizational development and is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP). The Genius of Opposites is her third bestselling book.


When extroverts and introverts get on the same page, they can achieve extraordinary things :

It’s probably not the first time you’ve heard the people are either introverts or extroverts, but do you actually know the difference? If you are one to feel full of energy when you socialize and tired when alone, you are likely an extrovert. If you are the opposite, however, you are an introvert. In other words, introverts harness their energy from within, while extroverts use the outside world as a source of energy.

It’s obvious in this case that introverts and extroverts aren’t always on the same page. Introverts see extroverts as shallow, while extroverts perceive introverts as cold and snobbish. That’s why many extrovert-introvert duos have high-performing collaborative relationships that are often separated because of underlying differences.

A great example of this is the Nobel prize winners Francis Crick and James Watson. Despite being completely opposite to each other, when they joined forces, they made one of the greatest twentieth-century discoveries, DNA. However, they ceased to work together again because they no longer had a common goal to help them set their differences aside.

Yet, it is more than possible to create great working dynamics between opposites that last despite differences.


Reevaluate your partnerships by specifying the differences and defining the common goal:

Combining an extrovert and an introvert is like mixing water and oil. However, when the differences are clear, and you use a few tricks, it’s more than possible.

First to assess the dynamic of your extrovert-introvert relationship. How? by comparing the different responses of each of you to certain situations.

The situations you can use as references can be the ones they use in standard personality tests. And rate each of these situations on a scale of never to almost always. Where your answers contrast the most are the areas that you should work on the most.

How do you work on such personality conflicts? Five steps will lead you to the genius of opposites which we’ll cover in the following. Those steps are guided by the acronym ABCDE:

  • Accept the alien.
  • Bring on the battle.
  • Cast the character.
  • Destroy the dislike.
  • Each cat offer everything

But before we begin, there is one more thing essential to your partnership: sharing a definite, long-term goal.

Famous opposites Steve Jobs (extrovert) and Steve Wozniak (introvert) were joined by the long-term goal of bringing computers to the world. This goal was the common ground that thrived their partnership regardless of their opposing personalities and paved the way to their revolutionary successes.

Therefore, once you got your common goal clear and concrete, you are ready to start with the five steps of the genius of opposites.


Get your partnership off the ground by accepting and engaging with your differences:

For whom they are, we are always told to accept others. Simple advice, apparently. But when your partner begins to attack your ideas or starts to be passive, it is not so easy to follow.

Accepting the alien is a big challenge for partnership members. We often want our partner to work more as we do, and sometimes to push him to adapt to our approach. This causes resentment and animosity. Meanwhile, the time pressures often reveal our unhappy features, making it difficult to settle conflicts calmly.

But it’s just wrong to try to make your partner more like you. Personality types are deeply rooted and your partner should be accepted for introvert or extrovert. If you and your partner disagree, try to see why, although it’s completely alien to you, they are acting or reacting the way they are. You’ll be cutting your stress by half if you can do that.

It is time to fight after you have accepted the alien in your partner. It is also the quickest way to solve creative problems while conflicts can be unpleasant. Two heads are better than one, and one of the best things about a partner is to have another voice to criticize your assumptions.

For example, Chrysler, a luxury automotive company, made enormous financial benefits during a period of great partnerships. Opposites were Robert Lutz, an extroverted car manager, and Robert Eaton, Chrysler’s CEO who was introverted to him.

This all changed, unfortunately, when after the Chrysler-Mercedes Benz merger, Jürgen Schrempp became the CEO. Schrempp saw himself better than Robert Eaton, who, in turn, maintained his interests. Eaton finally left the company. The partnership was rocky. Partnerships simply cannot flourish without accepting various personalities and welcoming conflicts.

Two important parts of a successful partnership are accepting differences and welcoming conflicts.


Enhance your partnership with clear roles, mutual respect and a team-based approach:

Everyone has strengths perfectly aligned with certain team roles. What do you have? What are you? Are you the goal that likes all of it or the man that knows how to maintain a high moral standard? It’s time to find out if you don’t know!

The third step to building a brilliant partnership is to make the difference. Clear roles and responsibilities are of benefit to every partnership. Your partnership will not reach its full potential if nobody knows what its duties are.

Chinese marketplace online In a partnership with clearly defined roles, Alibaba has achieved massive success. Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, and his business counterpart Jonathan Lu have contrasting duties that make the company’s best.

Ma is the visionary – the creative person who sees expansion opportunities and future financial success. Through its details, structure and organization, Lu is the planner to realize these visions. Alongside providing an online auctions platform, they have created a successful marketplace that offers other services, such as a means to transfer funds.

The next step is the destruction of your disappointment. Major partnerships do not need a close friendship, but they should at least be based on a firm respect for each other.

Let’s go back to the Jobs and Wozniak partnership. They weren’t great friends at all. They were in fact often at the front lines. But they had mutual passions and interests and respected each other because of that. Because of that they have also found new sides of their own personalités and expanding their worldviews. They can radically alter the course of computer technology.

There’s only one step left, which is needed in order to stay realistic for your partnership: everybody can’t offer it all. We can’t hope to do everything on our own. Some of our weaknesses mean that we are not ready to solve certain issues for all of our strengths. Our partners are needed, and our partners are required of us.