The internet, it seems, has made introversion cool. We have Susan Cain to thank for that.
Proof? Here you go:
Cain is a lecturer and author of ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’, a 2012 bestseller that’s like the Rosetta Stone for… well, introverts, basically, and why modern society should value their contributions more.
If the eight million-and-counting YoutTube views of her TED Talk is any indication, it’s that people all over the world have definitely related to her.
So this brings us to this observation: because everyone is already on the internet, that means many of the qualities valued in the “real world” have also manifested online, like extroversion and the need to be “out there” to get any attention.
Of course, that’s great because that means we also get to interact with different types of personalities online!
However, for owners running their own businesses, it’s a given that they also have to develop strategies, network with different kinds of personalities, attend industry or community events, or simply talk to prospective customers or clients — ironically, the kinds of activities that we don’t usually associate with introverts.
The good news is that if you’re an introvert, there’s really nothing major you have to change about yourself. Just be yourself! Unfortunately, that advice is also as vague as getting life advice from a BuzzFeed quiz.
So, before we proceed, let’s clear some things up, shall we?
How to know if you’re One of Those “Introverted Leaders”
Like, deep, man
Contrary to what pop culture has been telling us, introversion and extraversion are not manifestations of behavior. For instance, not all introverts are shy and not all extraverts are loud.
Rather, introversion and extroversion simply fall down to how personalities use up their “energies”. A classic example is how extroverts can thrive for hours by talking to many people in a party, while introverts are drained by the same activity and would need to “recharge” by spending time by themselves.
Psychology experts have already agreed that introversion and extraversion are only two of the personality types ascribed to humans; that’s why personality tests like the Myers-Briggs have been used to account for the full psychological spectrum of what makes a person tick.
In addition, said personality tests have been helpful in pointing out how many of history’s great personalities like Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, and Warren Buffet were found out to be introverted leaders (though it should be said how several critics have been noting its shortcomings in some areas).
Besides, Carl Jung, the influential 20th-century psychologist who coined the “introvert” and “extrovert” personality types, is widely reported to have said that there’s no one person that’s either a pure introvert or extrovert unless “such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.” (Ouch!)
So, have you found out if you’re an introvert? If so, then we’re ready to back you up! Below, in no specific order, are the introvert-friendly ways you can follow to running your business:
Introverts are Creative… and Only Because They’re Comfortable Being Alone
It’s easy to figure out why marketing, as an industry, has been associated with extroverted people for so long: because the majority of selling was conducted in person, even when mass media became avenues for owners to advertise their business during the 20th century.
However, winning ideas don’t happen in a vacuum: as anyone who has worked in a marketing agency can tell you, the vaguest of ideas are sharpened by hours of brainstorming and feedback. In between those sessions, there’s this powerful tool that rarely gets talked about, but psychologists swear is just as effective as any method in creating campaigns and strategies for one’s business: by simply thinking on your own.
Ironically, it seems like many people find “thinking” — yes, even just the simple act of it — difficult. One famous study even found its participants (mostly male) choose electric shocks over having to spend fifteen minutes alone in a room with no one and nothing to distract them. If you ever wonder why we’ve got so few philosophers, this might be the reason.
However, the importance of solitude in various creative and strategic processes has been well-documented by both psychologists (Ester Buchholz — who called alonetime as “fuel for life” — in his book, ‘The Call of Solitude’, fourteen years before Susan Cain did) and journalists (who lionized the myth of “the writer in his solitary cabin”).
Buchholz, however, doesn’t discount the value of outside influences shaping our work for the better. Rather, this is how she saw it:
“Others inspire us, information feeds us, practice improves our performance, but we need quiet time to figure things out, to emerge with new discoveries, to unearth original answers.”
Our modern counterpart for it might be the “sleep on it” solution — you know, that phrase what we usually say to a partner or our members in the team after a heavy meeting and before we have to arrive at a huge decision.
As it turns out, that might be also by design: how appropriate is it that sleep, the single human activity that literally puts our body in complete solitude, has become an idiom for decision-making?
Go get those eight hours, bruh.
Introverts have the gift of listening… to what their customers want
With figurative ears, of course
“The advantage, I think, of being an introvert is you listen more. You think before you speak, often, which means that you’re listening, and I think that’s important.”
That quote is from Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of biotech company LanzaTech, in an interview on CNBC. If you think she’s an anomaly in a world where the outgoing and charismatic CEO is celebrated… well, you just have to look to Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. As it turns out, there are plenty of introverted leaders today.
Introverts are the types who don’t speak what’s on their minds immediately. As a result, they’re often labeled, for better or worse, as “deep thinkers” and all the connotations associated with that term.
Thankfully, the more positive implication to thinking deeply is that introverts observe everything they could out of a given situation to make what they truly believe are well-informed decisions.
Here’s another thing about introverts that makes them such good marketers and leaders: to quote from an article in entrepreneurship magazine INC., introverts are “motivated by productivity, not ambition”. Is this even true? Well, this might be why…
Most Introverted Leaders Are Not ” Loud”, But They Can Talk (A Whole Lot of) Sense
But wait! As it turns out, having a business based on personality isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, at least according to a few influencers themselves. Neil Patel, one of the biggest “rock star” marketers in the digital world today, wrote as such in his blog:
There’s no taking that guy away from the ‘Gram.
“Whether you pick (entrepreneur) Tony Robbins or famous athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo or reality TV stars like the Kardashians, none of them will ever be bigger than the companies (like Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Nike, American Express, and Tesla), at least from a financial perspective.”
On the other hand, one of the drawbacks of having a “face” of the business is the unforeseen public blowback that might come with it. The scandals behind Papa John’s and Fyre Festival are just two recent public examples of the downsides to using the business-as-personality tact.
To be fair, we’re not saying that being an extrovert in business is all that bad — for every Papa John’s, there are dozens of brands with public-facing CEOs operating their businesses successfully, after all — but rather, you can still be confident in the knowledge that, as an introvert, you can still grow your business proactively without being intimidated into acting more extroverted.
Jennifer Kahnweiler, a public speaker who tackled a more business-oriented look on the subject of introversion in her book, ‘The Introverted Leader’, said that introverts aren’t predetermined to immediately list down their strengths or positive qualities, which does indeed make it tricky when it comes to getting attention if the person next to you does the same in “flashier” way.
What introverts might lack in pizzazz, though, they make up in substance. Kahnweiler, in her interview in Forbes Magazine, said that leaders expressing quiet thoughtfulness “don’t try to dominate the conversation or direction of a team. They are engaged listeners and set the stage for people to step into their own strengths.”
Furthermore, she points out that introverted leaders are “astute observers and known for synthesizing and summarizing key points in meetings” and “build on the preference for one-on-one conversations to be effective coaches and mentors” since their “calm focus and grounded energy to provide reassurance during times of change.”
So, while introverts are not expected to whip up some quick small talk to just about anyone, what they usually tend to offer instead are more meaningful conversations that usually arrive at a solution (or… well, just a sensible point). Is it any coincidence that this sounds like something you would also want to get from a romantic date?
Essentially, this is our article’s version of “being yourself” when you’re looking to make inroads in an industry or community as an introverted business owner. We’ll reiterate what we said at the top of this section: you can make connections effectively if you simply show your authentic, introverted self.
Entrepreneurship is a vocation that often calls you to perform unfamiliar and uncomfortable things to grow your business, particularly if you’re indispensable in the frontline of your business handling development, sales, marketing, or any other activities that might pop up in the long run.
Of course, both introversion and extroversion are useful qualities to have if you want to push your business to success. At the end of the day, how you handle the challenges facing your business defines who you really are as an entrepreneur.