How Polyvore’s CEO Deals With Being An Introvert

A portrait of Polyvore CEO Jess Lee on Aug. 5, 2015 at Polyvore's Mountain View office. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)



Jess Lee found herself in her dream job after taking a leap of faith from being product manager for Google, to product manager for Polyvore in its start-up days back in 2008.

Her thinking was that, like Google, it would be a sink-or-swim environment and she would learn a lot so that eventually, she could go do her own thing. But soon, she says, “Polyvore kind of became my own thing.”

Then lo-and-behold, the hard work all paid off and she was made CEO of Polyvore in 2012.

But what if I told you Jess was an introvert? An introvert, leading a company? How?

In this video, she tells us the struggles she went through to find the right leadership style for her.

“When you think of the classic CEO style you think ‘COMMAND!’. ‘EXTROVERSION!’, and great oratory skills to inspire your team. I’m more of an introvert, maybe a little awkward,” she laughs.

It took her a while to figure out her style then she began to realize:

Play to your strengths
“What you see is what you get, I’m quite transparent.”

So she played that up inside of Polyvore. They’re very transparent about their financials, company performance, and strategy; so that’s helped in building a lot of trust within the team.

Don’t pretend to be an extrovert
“If I don’t want to be in the spotlight, I can spotlight the team.”

Jess lets the team take the reins more when it comes to the press, and lets them do all the presentations. But it actually helped boost team morale and made them feel appreciated and valued more. So it actually turned out to be a good thing!

Jess’ 3 tips for introverts at a networking event:

#1 Don’t find the loud group already engrossed in conversation, but find the wallflower and talk to them instead.

#2 Be the connector, introduce people to other people

#3 Have a presentation? No sweat. Make it more visual so you have to speak less!


Seeing such a smart, beautiful and very successful business woman – who is a bit of an introvert- is great motivation for fellow introverts. Even if we’re not the loudest in the room, it is proven we can still be great leaders, without being the center of attention!

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  • Kelsey Rose

    Great post!

    Kelsey x

  • Dalili

    I love this, thanks for sharing!

  • amelia

    Love the tip – don’t pretend to be an extrovert! So true!! Just be true to who you are!

  • Camille Beygui

    She is so inspiring

  • Talisa Garbo

    This was a great read. So inspiring!

  • Dorothy

    Love the tips, they really do work. As long as you are yourself and not pretending to be something else, networking can be super fun. :)

    Dorothy |

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