Susan Cain (@susancain) is, in her own words, an “unlikely” award-winning speaker, and bestselling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Her latest book is Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole. [Note: This is a previously broadcast episode from the vault that we felt deserved a fresh pass through your earholes!]
What We Discuss with Susan Cain:
- How “quiet” came to be a pejorative term as the West urbanized and placed more value on personality (extroversion) over character (introversion).
- Better ways to understand our introverted friends (or selves).
- Action steps for introverts to become more social.
- Why being an introvert might actually be an advantage — in social situations, negotiation, and creative pursuits.
- Why brainstorming doesn’t work and is mostly a social exercise vs. a creative one.
- And much more…
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider including your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
If you’re not one yourself, chances are pretty good you know more than a few introverts. In a world that seems to reward extroverts at the expense of their quieter counterparts, it’s no wonder the introvert feels increasingly out of place — often to the point of feigning extroverted tendencies just to fit in.
But this hasn’t always been the case. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and co-author of Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, explains why modern society works this way, what advantages introverts have over their extroverted peers, and why identifying as an introvert doesn’t have to be the death knell to your social life you might fear. You’re not alone, as you’ll discover here.
Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about how Jordan learned to cope with his introverted tendencies, how reputational confusion allows us to pass for one personality type when we’re another at heart, what Steve Wozniak has to say about creativity when it becomes too social, the differences between temperament and personality, why Susan — who considers herself an introvert — chose to write much of her book in a cafe among people, why extroverts tend to attain leadership in the public domain while introverts tend to attain leadership in theoretical and aesthetic fields, how to pronounce Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, why deliberate practice is more effective when focused on an individual rather than a group, why extroverts who do well in social situations might lack the ability to make educational deep dives in solitude, why we give wrong answers more often when called upon in groups, what the rubber band theory of personality entails, how introverts and extroverts operate beyond obvious social measures, the difference between shyness and introversion (and how even some extroverts are shy), how much of the population is really introverted, why we need to be careful about labeling ourselves one extreme or the other as an excuse to avoid improving ourselves, and lots more. Listen, learn, and enjoy! [Note: This is a previously broadcast episode from the vault that we felt deserved a fresh pass through your earholes!]
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Jordan Harbinger Show receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you for your support!
Sign up for Six-Minute Networking — our free networking and relationship development mini course — at jordanharbinger.com/course!
- Pick USA: Get a $10 signup bonus by joining the waitlist at pickusa.com/jordan
- Organifi: Get 20% off with code JORDAN
- BetterHelp: Get 10% off your first month at betterhelp.com/jordan
- Progressive: Get a free online quote at progressive.com
On the True Underdog podcast, entrepreneur Jayson Waller and his high-profile guests share motivational tips, inspiring stories, and business-building lessons to help each listener grow in their entrepreneurial journey. Listen here or wherever you enjoy podcasts!
Miss our conversation with producer, author, and Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey? Catch up with episode 455: Matthew McConaughey | Following Life’s Greenlights to Success here!
Thanks, Susan Cain!
If you enjoyed this session with Susan Cain, let her know by clicking on the link below and sending her a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain | Amazon
- Susan Cain and Min Kym: The Hidden Power of Sad Songs and Rainy Days | TED Summit 2019
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain | Amazon
- Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts by Susan Cain, Gregory Mone, and Erica Moroz | Amazon
- Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts | TED 2012
- Curated Nonfiction Subscription Book Club | Next Big Idea Club
- Susan Cain | Website
- Susan Cain | Twitter
- Susan Cain | Instagram
- Susan Cain | Facebook
- Dr. Anders Ericsson | Secrets from the New Science of Expertise | Jordan Harbinger
- Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell | Amazon
- Adam Grant | Why Helping Others Drives Our Success | Jordan Harbinger
648: Susan Cain | Introverts Unite for a Quiet Revolution
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:03] Susan Cain: What I really want to say is anytime we find ourselves only privileging the MO — that's like take the bull by its horns and be dominant and he out there — you're probably leaving a lot of emotional and aesthetic value and humanity on the table.
[00:00:23] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists and entrepreneurs, spies and psychologists, even the occasional Russian chess grandmaster, war correspondent, arms dealer, or hostage negotiator. Each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better thinker.
[00:00:50] If you're new to the show, or you're looking for a way to tell your friends about it, I suggest our episode starter packs. These are collections of our favorite episodes, organized by topic to help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on the show — topics like disinformation and cyber warfare, abnormal psychology, technology and futurism, crime and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or take a look in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:14] Today, one from the vault, we're talking with my friend, author and entrepreneur, Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. If this sounds like you, you should definitely listen to the show. Of course, if you're interested in better ways to understand our introverted friends or our introverted selves, this is going to be a good match for you. There are action steps here in this episode for introverts to become, let's say more social and a list of reasons why being an introvert might actually be an advantage socially, or even in a negotiation as well as in many other areas, especially in the creative and artistic pursuits. I'm a big fan of counterintuitive advice, especially when that advice is based on actual research and science. If you're with me on that, then I think you'll really enjoy this episode here today with Susan Cain. Here we go.
[00:02:03] So when I was a kid, I was really, really quiet. Then it's culturally looked down upon to be quiet, especially when you're a kid in this day and age, so I started to get louder and be more outgoing and I got in trouble for that too. So it was really annoying for me growing up, being a, quote-unquote, "quiet person," because it was almost like that wasn't a good thing. I noticed in your book you do mention America basically started valuing extroversion when we started to urbanize and quiet is pejorative now. Why is that? What's going on here?
[00:02:34] Susan Cain: Oh gosh. Yeah. It's a huge problem. And I mean, it's really not random that you started out asking that question by talking about your experience as a kid, because that really is when most quiet people become aware that there's somehow something's wrong with the way they tend to be. Naturally, you get sent that message very early on in life. Yeah, this started about a hundred years ago or so, as you were suggesting with urbanization. So it was basically like all of a sudden people started moving out of their small towns that they had once lived in alongside people they had known all their lives. And they started moving out into big cities and trying to ingratiate themselves for perspective corporate employers for the first time.
[00:03:21] And so it suddenly became very important: what kind of first impression you could make, how good a sales person you were, how much charisma you had. And it was like, we moved from what historians call the culture of character, where people were valued more on were you a good person inside to a culture personality. You know, to me, a really fascinating aspect of this is you can literally read the self-help books that were written in the 19th century. And they would talk about how do you become a person of good character. But then in the 20th century, the self-help books suddenly start shifting and it all becomes about how do you cultivate charisma and magnetism and dominance and those kinds of qualities. And we're really still living with that heritage today.
[00:04:07] Jordan Harbinger: So we shift from character to personality — and speaking of personality, by the way I went to, I checked out a Tony Robbins event, which I ended up leaving early. And there were a lot of implications here that to meet social fear, we got to be hyper social and that everything is kind of, you're selling whether you know it or not, which is a concept we're very familiar with, but there was a lot of leaning in on that. And we see these sales skill set as a virtue to share our gifts with others. Right? So we have to work on that because if we don't, we're kind of sheltering ourselves in the world and we're not giving the world the gift of us and all this stuff.
[00:04:42] And additionally, as you mentioned in your book, extroversion is something that companies have started to hire for as well. And people even started selecting mates based on this quality. I mean, it's become something that's so pervasive that if you're quiet now, it's like, "Oh, you're defective, man. You got to get on that.
[00:04:57] Susan Cain: Yeah, I find in particular, the whole metaphor of sales, as the way we think about human interaction. I find that to be so deeply problematic because I'm not talking about or advocating for people turning into hermits. Although I do think there's actually a small portion of the population for whom that really is the way they want to live and they should be blessed to live that way. But I think for most people who one would describe as introverts, it's not about being a hermit so much, but it is about choosing the way you connect with people.
[00:05:30] And I think for everybody, introverts and extroverts are much better off just thinking of other people in terms of like, "Okay, who is a kindred spirit here? Who do I truly want to connect with? Who do I truly have something to share with?" And let that be the MO as opposed to, "I'm going to sell someone the gift of my thoughts and ideas," and that's just all wrong.
[00:05:50] Jordan Harbinger: We'll get into why that's wrong. But I will say that I developed this performance and sales skill set myself, and it has made my life quite a bit better, but I can say pretty definitively because I haven't gotten rid of my reflective and introverted tendencies. That the reason that it has improved my life is because otherwise, I don't think I'd be able to fit in well in current times, which as you say, value personality over character. This for me had evolved out of necessity and the pain I went through as an introvert, as a kid, especially not out of some love for the process of becoming an extrovert. That was a distant second to just make the pain stop. "I don't want to be around people. This is painful. I can't deal with this. I'm going to end up playing video games in my underwear for my whole life. I better fix it." That's what prompted the changes for me. It wasn't because, "Oh, I just love going out and being social all the time." I mean, it was like, if I'd known what your book was saying, I probably wouldn't have put so much freaking pressure on myself in every area of extroversion, which made me feel like there was something wrong with me.
[00:06:51] Susan Cain: Yeah, I get what you're saying. So just to be clear, I actually am a big believer in everyone, introverts and extroverts alike cultivating the social skills that you need to be able to work in this world and to be able to make connections and so on. So I'm not talking about saying, "Oh, in a perfect world, you don't need social skills." I don't mean that at all. I'm saying rather that the social skills that we adopt should be ones that are based on trying to form genuine connections with people as opposed to selling things to people.
[00:07:22] So I talked to a lot of young people who have gone through the evolution that you're talking about and what ends up happening is they're so understandably desperate to not be alone, playing video games for all their lives that they adopt a completely false persona that they're in fact selling every weekend at their frat party or wherever it is. And they end up feeling like it's not them and they can't keep it up.
[00:07:47] Brian Little is this amazing personality, psychologist calls, reputational confusion, where you develop a reputation for being personality X, but that's not really who you are. So eventually, you sort of run out of steam and you have to rework it anyway. My feeling is that if you start from a place of feeling entitled to be who you are, "I'm a quiet, reflective person, and that's cool. And now, I'm going to figure out how to make genuine connections with people from that place." You're much better off.
[00:08:16] Jordan Harbinger: I think I agree with that in that I missed the boat on that, but it sounds like it would have ended up a little bit better for me, right?
[00:08:23] Susan Cain: I mean, what happened in your case, you developed all these skills because you were feeling uncomfortable with what your true self was like. And then what happened where you happy?
[00:08:32] Jordan Harbinger: So what happened was when I was a kid, like I said, I was really quiet. And then it was like, "Oh, he's so quiet. But I noticed all the people that were well-liked were not quiet," so I became loud. So I got in trouble a bunch. And then I noticed I was getting bored in schools. So I was really introverted. And I started getting in trouble for computer hacking and wiretapping when I was like 13 and my parents were like, "Go out and play with their friends. You're not allowed to sit in the house and do all this Internet stuff because you're just going to get in trouble and we can't keep an eye on you." So it was like, "All right, I can't even hang out in my own house now. So I got to go out and figure this out."
[00:09:04] And then I joined athletic teams and that's not really conducive to being an introvert a lot of the time. So I was getting a lot of attention that way. And then I started to get attention from the opposite sex and that was terrifying. So I worked on being comfortable or pretending I was comfortable in those situations. And I noticed, "Wow, high school is more fun when I'm confident." So I worked on that and then I went to college and I worked on that. And then I went to law school and I worked on that. And then I realized, "Oh, I'm starting to get the hang of this. It was very helpful for me and a lot of other people who are going through something similar," and that was the origin of this show in itself, which was teach people how to be more extroverted and be more confident and gain some life skills. And so it was really rewarding for that reason.
[00:09:47] But what we kind of didn't realize was, okay, you can get these extroverted skills. You can get these sales skills, you can get these life skills and confidence, but you don't have to get rid of everything else. You don't have to throw the baby out with the bath water. And now that I live in Silicon Valley, I see that companies are doing this too. You have guys like Steve Wozniak who designed things alone and said, "Nothing good has ever been created by a committee." Then you've got this kind of new group thing that says, "Well, creativity is inherently social. So no more cubicles or offices were on an open floor plan," which is like the introverted engineers worst nightmare.
[00:10:20] Susan Cain: Yeah. You know, the funny thing is when I first started researching my book, so this was back in like 2006. I live in New York, but I went out to Silicon Valley and plopped myself down there. And I thought that I was arriving at this place that was going to be a Nirvana for introverts, because I knew there were so many of them there, you know, contributing so much. But what I found instead, and I'm still finding to this day, is that you have company after company that's chockfull of introverted engineers and other people, and they're contributing massive amounts. And they all feel as if they're being told to be someone they're not. And so it's actually a huge problem, which to their credit, I have found many companies to be really receptive to thinking about and addressing, because it doesn't make sense for anybody. It just ends up being a waste of equals energy and talent to always be trying to go against the green of who they actually are.
[00:11:12] Jordan Harbinger: And yet we're trained to do that as much as possible, and it's all right to learn and grow. I want to be really specific here because it's great to learn and grow. It's great to push the edges of your comfort zone and things like that. But this is something that may be a little bit more ingrained. And you mentioned this in the book as well. There's two sort of different personality paths, if you will, or character paths. There's temperament which is in, and personality which is a mix of what happens later. Can you explain the difference between these two things? I mean, are we born with a certain personality introvert versus extrovert? What is nature and what is nurture?
[00:11:43] Susan Cain: Yeah, I mean, so there's no human being, who's not a mishmash of nature and nurture for one thing. So personality, psychologists do you believe that introversion and extroversion are among the most heritable of personality traits, but even there, there's still a gigantic component of environmental factors. Temperament, as you just said, is kind of like about a baby's born and what are the behavioral and emotional profiles that that baby tends to have. So we do know that certain babies are born with more reactive nervous systems, which means they just kind of like startle more and react more in response to any kind of stimulation with anything from drinking some sugar water to being around unfamiliar kids when they're a little bit older.
[00:12:27] So the babies who have these more reactive nervous systems are the ones who are more likely to grow up to be introverts. And that's pretty well documented, but that said, people go through tremendous shifts throughout their lives. So you can have a kid that may have this kind of reactive nervous system and is therefore what they pretty shy at a birthday party or something. But overtime, they will develop the skills and the comfort level where that shyness can go away almost completely. But at the same time, one of the scientists, Jerry Kagan at Harvard is one of the leaders in this field. And he says, "It's very unlikely that somebody who's born with the temperament of a Bill Gates. They're not going to turn into a Bill Clinton. You stretch, you develop, you acquire all kinds of skills. People shifts all through their lives but you kind of shift only so much."
[00:13:13] So I'm all for people acquiring the skills they need and stepping outside their comfort zones when they need to, for the service of the goals they have in life, for sure. I would just caution not to attribute all such skills and I call those extroverted skills because I don't think that's really how it works. Like I think if you look more closely, you see that there are some people who tend to connect with others and sometimes in a really skillful way, but they're doing it in a more quiet style and that could be every bit as effective or more, you know, depending on the context.
[00:13:46] Jordan Harbinger: Absolutely. I think it can be better to be an introvert in certain social situations. And we'll talk about that in a bit. I want to say one thing though, you are really good at not being talked over or interrupted. Does that come from being talked over and interrupted a lot when you were younger and figuring like, "No longer am I going to deal with that, I'm going to plow forward"? Because you do it in a way that's not bull in a China shop, but you definitely don't let people talk over you. And I noticed that sometimes, introverted people will just kind of let that happen a lot. I used to do that a lot as well.
[00:14:14] Susan Cain: Oh gosh. That's really interesting. I think I'm pretty confident even though I think of myself, like I'll sort of always be a shy person, even though I've gotten over a lot of my shyness, it's there, but I'm also confident at the same time. But I also think, you know, we were talking before about how we both used to be corporate lawyers in our old life. When I stopped practicing corporate law, I actually started training people in negotiation skills. It was actually how I made my living for a while, while I was learning how to become a writer. And I did a lot of work training women. And also, I didn't think of it at the time as training introverts. I didn't really have the language for it, but that was what I was doing, I was training people who were the kind who wouldn't have thought of themselves as being good negotiators.
[00:14:58] So I thought a lot during that time about how to be assertive or be able to interrupt or not be interrupted while still feeling like you're your own self. It felt to me like the advice people are always getting was like, you know, speak up and be this very dominant person. And if you're not that person, fell on some level, like it's kind of wrong to be that person. I mean, on some deep instinctual level, then it's never going to work.
[00:15:22] Jordan Harbinger: Despite having so many introverted tendencies, you wrote the book in a cafe, you mentioned. Why did you do that? That seems like the opposite type of environment that somebody is a classic introvert would want to be in when they're doing deep work, like writing, creating.
[00:15:35] Susan Cain: Yeah. I don't know. You know, I lived in Manhattan for 17 years and I was living there when I wrote the book and wrote it in this amazing cafe in Greenwich Village. I often think of Manhattan in general as a kind of introverts Nirvana, because it's a really great feeling to be around other people and feel like you're picking up all their creative energy. At the same time when there's not a social expectation that you have to be on and talk to them.
[00:16:02] So like the cafe where I did all my work was frequented by a lot of writers and other creative people. And there's just something about that. I really believe that all humans are pretty porous. You know, you pick stuff up without even being conscious of it. And it feeds you in a really good way. You're like feeding each other. But yeah, but you're still kind of free in terms of the social norms of the cafe to be looking down at your laptop and sipping your coffee and kind of be happily in your own state of deep flow.
[00:16:29] Jordan Harbinger: I work from home. So I'm out of luck, but I definitely agree with you. I definitely agree with you for the most part, especially if I've got to do hours and hours of some writing tasks, like I'm replying to 300 pieces of fanmail or something like that. I will go to a coffee shop. In part, because I don't want to be distracted by something that might be more fun at the time than plowing through my entire inbox, but also just because there's so much energy and activity going on there, I don't get tired as I go. I get more energized as I go.
[00:16:55] Susan Cain: Exactly. Exactly. I do kind of such a delicate balance, you know, and the decibel level in the cafe, it has to be just right. And if it's an iota too loud hours, then you stop being able to focus.
[00:17:05] Jordan Harbinger: I agree. Yeah. It's got to be white noise buzz. It can't be like, there's a kid who keeps yelling and throwing things. It's like it can't creep into my consciousness. It's got to remain subconscious. Otherwise, it is distracting.
[00:17:16] You mentioned in the book as well, that extroverts tend to attain leadership in the public domain. So you mentioned Bill Clinton as well, and introverts tend to attain leadership in theoretical and aesthetic fields. Why is that? I mean, that must have to do with the advantages of being an introvert at some point.
[00:17:31] Susan Cain: Yeah. Okay. So first of all, I don't want to overstate that point because you do see introverts being CEOs and all kinds of things where you might not exactly expect to find them, but there they are, and same for extroverts. I think it's really just that there's only so many hours in the day. I think it's nothing more exciting that explains it than that. There's only so many hours in the day. And if you're the person who's drawn to going and painting in your studio or sitting and thinking about science, let's say, you might just get a little more done in that field than somebody who's equally as talented at it, but who's drawn to be spending their time in other places.
[00:18:09] The psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talks about this, that there are some teenagers who are really talented in various domains, but they don't have the ability or the interest to kind of sit in a room by themselves for the period of time that's required to really deepen their craft or their talent, and so they may not end up going as far with it.
[00:18:31] Jordan Harbinger: Do you think Tim Cook is an introverted CEO? Just ran tangent?
[00:18:34] Susan Cain: I do, I do think so.
[00:18:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, because he's an engineer as well.
[00:18:39] Susan Cain: All over Silicon Valley. I think you see introverted CEOs and I think what explains it is that a lot of these people would not be CEOs of something else. Like these aren't necessarily people who, you know, destined to become a leader. And it almost didn't matter what they became a leader of. It's rather people who got really into what they were doing and that thing was technology. And because they were really good at it and really into it, they ended up hiring all kinds of expertise and networks and so on. And they end up becoming leaders and often very good ones, but it's a different pathway from a Bill Clinton who I'm sure from the time he was a little kid, you just knew he was going to grow up and lead something.
[00:19:19] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Of course, yeah, you just, you see the naturals in there. And by the way, congratulations on being the one in 500 person who can say Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi without saying, you know, it's really complicated last name. I just give up before trying. So props to you on that as well.
[00:19:33] Susan Cain: That's really funny. I love him so much.
[00:19:38] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Susan Cain. We'll be right back.
[00:19:43] This episode is sponsored in part by Pick USA. Pick USA are debit cards, that rewards you four percent cash back when you buy American brands. So you can use it however you want. It is cash. It's your money. Plus they give you major discounts on American brands, such as Yeti, Weber, Carhartt, Milwaukee tools, and hundreds more. Pick USA wants to reward you for buying products made here in the USA. If you're an American, you deserve a share of the equity you're helping to build and keep an industry's right here in the United States. They've also got some discovery tools right there in the app. They'll help you figure out which brands you should explore, and it takes some of the heavy lifting out of finding American brands that qualify for cash back. It's not like a tricky puzzle. You only find the answer once you get your debit card statement. I hate when cards do that. Pick USA doesn't do that.
[00:20:24] Jen Harbinger: Get a $10 sign-up bonus by joining the waitlist on pickusa.com/jordan. Free money and money back when you spend your money, that might be the most American thing I've heard all day. That's P-I-C-K-U-S-A.com/jordan.
[00:20:38] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Organifi. Organifi is a line of organic superfood blends that offers plant-based nutrition made with high-quality ingredients. Each Organifi blend is science back to craft the most effective doses with ingredients that are organic and free of fillers and contain less than three grams of sugar per serving. Like Organifi Green Juice with essential superfoods and a clinical dose of ashwagandha. I don't know what a clinical dose is, but it sounds very scientific. Organifi Red Juice is a superfood punch with only two grams of sugar. Each Organifi blend is easy to use by simply mixing it with water or your favorite beverage while on the go. And they don't compromise quality for taste Organifi takes pride in offering the best tasting superfood products on the market at a price that works out to less than three bucks a day. You can experience Organifi's high quality superfoods without breaking the bank.
[00:21:21] Jen Harbinger: Go to organifi.com/jordan and use code JORDAN for 20 percent off your order. That's O-R-G-A-N-I-F-I.com/jordan and use code JORDAN for 20 percent off any item.
[00:21:34] Jordan Harbinger: Hey, if you're wondering how I managed to book all these amazing folks on the show, the authors thinkers, creators that I have every single week, it's all because of my network. And I'm teaching you how to build your network for free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. It doesn't require you to go out and be an outgoing, crazy zany extrovert, of course. It's great for introverts, in fact. And now, you don't have an excuse anymore if you've been listening to this episode. This course is about improving your networking and connections and inspiring others to develop a personal and professional relationship with you. It'll make you a better networker, a better connector, and of course, a better thinker. That's all at jordanharbinger.com/course. By the way, most of the guests on our show, they already subscribe and contribute to that course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[00:22:18] Now, back to Susan Cain.
[00:22:22] One of the things that struck me, and I believe you may mention this in your book, or maybe this is my own note, but one of the reasons that a lot of introverts tend to attain leadership/mastery in theoretical fields, aesthetic fields is because oftentimes deliberate practice happens alone.
[00:22:36] And we did a show with Dr. Anders Ericsson who kind of — I think he coined the term deliberate practice as well. It happens when you're by yourself, much of the time. And so if you're by nature spending a lot of your time alone working on something, especially if you have a high level of intelligence or maybe an obsessive personality, like some of these guys and girls who get really good at particular industries, sports, writing, and cultural pursuits, you tend to get in a lot of deliberate practice, which tends to lead to mastery and much quicker.
[00:23:05] Susan Cain: Yeah, exactly. It was Anders Ericsson who told me about that. And it's so interesting because there's been all this talk about deliberate practice and the 10,000-hour rule. I think that ever since Malcolm Gladwell wrote about it in his book, Outliers, but nobody talks about this aspect of it. You know, the way Anders Ericsson explains it is if you're trying to work on your craft and you're doing it in the context of a group, you're going to end up spending so much time working on things that other people need to focus on, that are either too hard for you, too easy for you, not of interest to you, you know, just not like where you need to be for your practice.
[00:23:43] So the best way to do the practice is either by yourself in drills and that kind of thing, or working one-on-one with a coach, who's tailoring everything to exactly where you need to be, and that gets lost along the way, but it's true. Not only actually of people in theoretical, like a chess player, let's say, it's also true of even elite athletes in team sports. They say often the best athletes are the ones who have the wherewithal to just sit there by themselves in the basketball court drill over and over.
[00:24:12] We've been doing a lot of work at Quiet Revolution with schools. And although our mission is to help schools harness the talents of introverted students, we also worry a lot about the extroverts because we think that they're the ones who by their nature are not going to teach themselves how to do that kind of solitary, deep dive, you know, do this over and over to like get it right kind of work because they're so drawn to being with other kids. And nowadays, the educational system isn't really giving kids that practice because so much is being done now in group work that the extroverted kids are starting to miss out.
[00:24:48] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting. I did not realize that, but it does make a lot of sense that we focus and we'd create workplaces like this, going back to sort of the open-office workspace. So I did notice in your book, we've actually got some really good anecdotes about how, when we're in groups, we often give wrong answers more often, and it's not just social pressure, but the peer pressure doesn't just push us to conform, but actually changes our perceptions in our brains leading to the wrong answer.
[00:25:14] So you end up with a lot of folks that are introverted, getting separate answers that might be more correct because they are working alone, which I thought was fascinating. So essentially if we're managing people and we have some introverted creatives or high reactives, as you mentioned, we might want to leave those people alone because that's how they do their best work. And sometimes their best work might be better than work done by a group of people working together on the same problem.
[00:25:41] Susan Cain: Yeah. And I'd actually go a step farther and say that you want to do that for the extroverts too. If you have a problem that you want to solve or a creative project, and you want everybody rolling up their sleeves and doing a deep think, you want to send the extroverts and introverts off to do it by themselves because all the research finds that people who brainstormed by themselves will produce more ideas and better ideas than groups of people brainstorming together. And that's just as true of the extroverts as it is of the introverts. So, you know, it's easier for the introverts to do the solitary work and the extroverts might resist it at every turn, but really everybody should be doing it.
[00:26:18] Jordan Harbinger: Now, what advantages do introverts have over extroverts? Let's talk proper parenting, proper environment, introverts have strengths and advantages. Can we list some of those and explain some of these? Because I know that there's a lot of folks listening that are thinking, "Okay, got it, got it, got it. Yeah, I still want to know why it hasn't been just one painful thing after another, and this has all been worth it. Tell me."
[00:26:40] Susan Cain: I mean, as we're saying, there's this ability to kind of sit still, focus, go deep, and the fruits of that can be incredibly intense. So that's one thing. Another thing that gets talked about much less often is that there are a lot of introverts in leadership positions and not just the theoretical and aesthetic kind, but the conventional kind of leadership would say, and there's a growing body of research showing that introverted leaders often deliver better outcomes than extroverted leaders do. To some degree, this depends on the situation. So Adam grant—
[00:27:15] Jordan Harbinger: I had him a few times. Yeah, great dude, great guests as well.
[00:27:18] Susan Cain: Yeah. I love Adam. So he did this famous study where he looked at leaders and he found that extroverted leaders delivered better outcomes when they were managing people who were less proactive. From a staff of people who really needed encouragement and they needed rousing, an extrovert is better at getting people all jazzed up to go. But if you have already a staff who's proactive, it's the introverted leaders who deliver the better outcomes. And this is partly because the introverts are really good at listening and valuing other people's ideas and encouraging people to actually run with those ideas and take them to the next place. And that leads to really great results.
[00:28:01] Jordan Harbinger: This spills over socially as well. I noticed you state that introverts may have better social skills because they observe and notice more before diving into social groups. I am like this. Now, I force myself to make a good first impression so that it seems outgoing and charismatic, but then I hang back and observe and get the lay of the land and map the dynamics of the group. And I also try to shape the way that the group works. That's a learned, and I'm wondering though, of course, we're able to stretch our personalities like I've done in the past, but probably only up to a point and you have an interesting rubber band theory of personality. Can you talk about that a little bit? Because it seems like no matter what you do, you're still going to, at times, snap back into your default mode.
[00:28:42] Susan Cain: Yeah. So the idea is that we all can stretch, that we all should stretch. Brian Little again, my favorite personality psychologist, he talks about how we all have these core personal projects in our lives. And these are either the work projects or the people we love. And like for the sake of those people in those projects, we will often step outside our comfort zone and we should do that, but you can only stretch only so far, that's my rubber band theory. You can stretch, you should stretch, but at a certain point you're going to snap. You just can't do it. So the key is to be thinking, okay, is there something where it's like worth it? You know, is this on the service of my core personal project?
[00:29:25] So, I mean, I'll just give you an example. I threw my husband a 50th birthday party, a surprise party for his 50th birthday, a couple of years ago. And that's not like my natural thing to do to be spending a year of tracking down all his old friends, finding them, coordinating them, organizing the party, presiding over this party. But you know, you do that because it's in the service of, in that case someone you love, but the key is that after you do those things, you should then do what Brian Little calls taking a restorative niche, which is saying to yourself, "Okay, I just spent a weekend planning a surprise party. So the next day, I get to chill out and go get a massage, and sit in a cafe with my laptop by myself."
[00:30:08] So it's a question of having that kind of balance. And I don't think that. People achieve that balance until they really deep down feel emotionally entitled to be who they are. I really do think that's the key. Because if you don't emotionally feel entitled, then you're just going to keep on stretching yourself beyond the point of all rationality.
[00:30:28] Jordan Harbinger: Right. At which point do you experience some sort of stress or some sort of cognitive dissonance or something like that? I mean, what happens if you keep trying to stretch yourself?
[00:30:35] Susan Cain: Oh my gosh. I mean, for some people they literally burn out, you know, they get literally physically ill or are they just stopped being able or wanting to do the job that they were doing in the first place. It's like that. I think the consequences could be pretty extreme. Sometimes, it just means that they end up being where they should be in the first place.
[00:30:54] So this young women who sent me a letter and she told me that she was at a high school where the most prestigious feather in your cap thing to do is to be the peer leadership counselor. You know it was this program, you had to apply for. So she said she spent like a whole year trying to figure out how to be more of an extrovert. And she was finally chosen for this program, twisted herself into a pretzel to do what she was supposed to do. And then she actually got kicked out of it six months later because she wasn't the extroverted model that the teachers were looking for to this thing. And she was devastated. But then after that, she realized that what she really wanted to do and what she really loved to do in the first place was science. She hadn't actually really wanted to be a peer leadership person.
[00:31:40] And so she started hanging out with her biology teacher after school, and she ended up writing her first scientific paper, publishing it at 17. She won a scholarship to university. She's now majoring in biomedical engineering. And like, she didn't actually need to stretch all that time. And in her case, the stretching so far that she finally snapped was the blessing that helped her figure out where she was supposed to be in the first place.
[00:32:03] Jordan Harbinger: So in your work, you've seen certain differences in the brain that showed introverts tend to be more sensitive to input, which makes sense. I think a lot of introverts get overwhelmed with input more easily when there's things that are noisy — in fact, I was playing with my friend's kids the other day. They're really young. They're four and three or two and a half or something like that. And the boy was kicking this game that made noise every time you hit it. It was like Hungry, Hungry Hippos, 2.0 type thing. And the little girl was sitting there and she goes, "No, it's too loud." And I thought, "What an interesting critique? Not, 'Stop kicking my toy.' And it was just, 'Oh, it's too loud.'" And I thought, "Wow, that is exactly what I was thinking but I figure I'm playing with kids, it's going to be loud." But she also didn't like that. This three-year-old girl. And I realized that, "Oh, this is the one that also tends to be a little bit less rambunctious." And it was probably a little bit too early for me to say what her personality type is, but she might have that inborn temperament that makes her a little bit more introverted potentially. I guess we'll see how that plays out over the next couple of decades, but I just thought, "Wow, when's the last time you heard a little kid say, 'No, it's too loud.'" And it's pretty rare, right? At least in my experience.
[00:33:11] Susan Cain: No. Oh, well, that's the funny thing. I actually think you hear it a lot if you're listening for it and if you're giving the kids an environment where they feel like they can say it, I mean, once you start looking for this stuff, you actually do see it all over the place. And kids really know because — well, they kind of have a double consciousness because they are getting from a very young age, the message that they're supposed to be rambunctious and all this stuff, but they're also still kids. So they'll tell you what they really think and feel.
[00:33:38] Jordan Harbinger: I definitely think that the input thing could lead to higher levels of perception. Would you agree with that? I mean, does being more sensitive to input, make us more sensitive to that very same input in terms of being able to think about or process it in some other way that might be advantageous?
[00:33:54] Susan Cain: Oh yeah, absolutely. So it's kind of a double-edged sword because yeah, on the one hand it's a liability because you kind of reach your overload state faster. But on the other hand, it does do what you're saying.
[00:34:05] So for example, there's this one study that was done with children, where they gave them one of those puzzles, where the job is to discern the difference between two pictures that appear to be really similar. And they're just very subtly different. And you find that the kids who are more quiet and cautious tends to be better at a puzzle like that. And in the lab, apparently you can literally see their eyes moving back and forth more frequently comparing the two pictures. So it really is this way of interacting with reality. Like we tend to think that it's all about, do you put a lampshade on your head at parties or not, just to be crude about it?
[00:34:40] Jordan Harbinger: If you're an introvert, you put lampshade on your head at parties, so nobody sees you.
[00:34:44] Susan Cain: Right. There's that, but yeah, it really is about how do you take in your information? What information do you notice or not? I don't know what the input thing. Like, even for me at this stage, I still find myself noticing things that I hadn't previously been conscious of.
[00:35:01] So my husband and I, we travel a lot and he's an extrovert. And when we go to airports, what always happens is that he totally speeds up and I slow down and get kind of molasses like. We had always noticed that difference, but we hadn't really thought about it until it occurred to us at some point. It's kind of classic, like I'm in an airport and I'm just overwhelmed by all the stimuli. So it makes me slow and he gets hyped up from it.
[00:35:25] Jordan Harbinger: Right. He's energized by it.
[00:35:27] Susan Cain: Yeah. Once you start paying attention to this stuff, it sort of shows up in all kinds of interesting ways.
[00:35:32] Jordan Harbinger: Very interesting. Yeah. And this sort of touches upon writing your book in a cafe where we need to find environments with the right level of stimulation to operate at our best. Whether or not we're of introverted or extroverted, we have to find the right kind of environment to be energized, to be able to do what we are doing.
[00:35:47] Right now, I'm in a studio in my house with my show notes, a microphone, some coffee that tastes really, really bad. And my phone facing upside down, so I don't get distracted. But on Sundays, I wish that I had a big window that was looking out onto a Manhattan street or something like that, because it would be a little bit more energizing. My mood definitely fluctuates, but I'd say my default is I just don't want any distraction whatsoever.
[00:36:10] And I have a recording light outside here that people in my household know that if they walk in while that's on, they're going to get hung by their ankles out of the second floor window, because I can't handle it. Right. I can only do one thing well at a time. And I don't want that extra stimulation. And other times I have to get that stimulation somehow, even though I'm trying to have a conversation because my brain needs it. And I think that that might have more to do with ambivert-type tendencies that you mentioned later on in the book as well.
[00:36:39] But I wanted to highlight the input thing because I know a lot of folks say, "Well, there's a lot of inhibitions, very introverted." It's not inhibition. It's more sensitivity, right? And there's a distinction there that I think is important.
[00:36:50] Susan Cain: Yeah. Okay. Wait, so two things, one is the thing about sometimes you really want lots of stimulation and sometimes you don't at all. I don't know that I would say that that comes from being an ambivert. I don't think it's that necessarily because it's really true of everybody, introverts, extroverts, that you're craving for. And your tolerance of stimulation really varies throughout the day. And I think one of the best things about becoming mindful about this stuff is you get to know yourself better and you can kind of try to choose your environment as best you can, you know, so that you're in your sweet spot at any given moment.
[00:37:20] And then the thing about inhibition at bottom, this is more about sensitivity and how are you reacting to stimulation. What ends up happening is there's this whole other layer or component of shyness and shyness is much more about the fear of social judgment. And do you feel accessibly self-conscious when you're in a social situation? If you're seeing somebody with a neutral expression on their face, do you tend to attribute disapproval to that person in practice? There's like an overlap between introversion and shyness. There's some intruded, people are also shy and then some are not, and then you have extroverts who are shy. So it's kind of complex.
[00:38:00] Jordan Harbinger: Right. It's not cut and dry. It's not, if you do this, you're introvert. And if you do this, you're extroverted.
[00:38:05] Susan Cain: Yeah. And all of this, you know, it's such a mishmash. So like an introverted tech person let's say will tend to be very different from an introverted actor or an introverted lawyer. It's not like this explains everything, but at the same time, explain the whole a lot.
[00:38:21] Jordan Harbinger: And it's very tempting to paint ourselves one way or another, because in America today, we don't make a whole lot of room for different personality styles. And we see ourselves largely as a nation of extroverts, which may put people at a significant disadvantage. Our lives are shaped as profoundly by personality as by gender or race. And yet not that many people are talking about it because well, one is considered good and one is considered maybe not as good, especially for different types of jobs and things like that. This is important for people who know already, maybe that they're extroverts, because if you're not an introvert yourself, you are probably the parent of one. You're managing some, you're married to one, you're dating one. I mean, this isn't something you can escape just because it doesn't affect you.
[00:39:04] Susan Cain: Yeah, you know, that's absolutely true. It says one out of every two or three people is introverted. And it's funny that you mentioned the workplace side of it, because I actually started thinking about this kazillion years ago, when I was a corporate lawyer, like you, I was always really interested in gender issues and thinking about how they shaped all the different lawyers' experiences. But then I started realizing like, I used to sit around boardroom tables, watching a negotiation, and I was thinking, "You know what, gender is not explaining everything that's going on here." There's like this whole other thing that's happening of some people being more out there and some being more interior.
[00:39:41] And that's what's really shaping everything. I don't mean gender isn't, but that's this huge other thing. And no one's talking about it and there's no language for talking about it. So that's what made me think to write the book in the first place. And then years later now to start Quiet Revolution where we're going in and working with companies to help them harness the talents of the introverted part of their workforce because I think there's so much being left on the table.
[00:40:05] We did a study recently through Quiet Revolution, and we found that the majority of people believe that their companies are not properly harnessing the talents and the value of the introverted half of their population. So that's ridiculous, really.
[00:40:22] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Susan Cain. We'll be right back.
[00:40:27] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help online therapy. People don't always realize that physical symptoms like headaches, teeth grinding, even digestive issues can be indicators of stress. Let's not forget about dooms growling, sleeping too little, sleeping too much, under-eating, overeating. When I was stressed out, I didn't even realize what was going on. I would wake up at like one or 2:00 a.m. to go to the bathroom and I couldn't sleep. I'd be vibrating. And eventually I talked to some friends and they're like, "It sounds like a panic attack." I'm like, "Me? No, I don't panic. I'm not that stressed out." Meanwhile, I lost like 20 pounds and not in a good way. And my wife was freaking out because I looked like a zombie. So stress shows up in all kinds of ways. In a world that's telling you to do more, sleep less, grind all the time, here's your reminder from me to take care of yourself, do a little less, maybe try some therapy.. I got therapy and it was a game changer for me. Just having somebody tell me that I wasn't fricking crazy and that there were strategies and skills I could develop to deal with a lot of this stress really helped. Even though I kind of knew that already, having someone else tell me, and maybe even just having somebody else give a crap, that was a big deal for me. Better Help is online therapy that offers video, phone, and even live chat sessions with your therapist in the convenience of your own home or wherever you want. Rather than waiting weeks to get booked with a therapist, get matched with a Better Help therapist in under 48 hours. And if you don't click, no problem, get another one, no additional charge. Over two million people have used Better Help online therapy. I recommend you try it out.
[00:41:51] Jen Harbinger: Our listeners get 10 percent off your first month at betterhelp.com/jordan. That's B-E-T-T-E-R-H-E-L-P.com/jordan.
[00:42:00] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Progressive. Progressive helps you get a great rate on car insurance, even if it's not with them. They have a comparison tool that puts rates side-by-side you choose a rate and coverage that works for you. So let's say you're interested in lowering your rate on car insurance, visit progressive.com. Get a quote with all the coverage you want. You'll see Progressive's rate and then their tool will provide options from other companies, all lined up and easy to compare. All you have to do is choose the rate and coverage as you like. Progressive gives you options so you can make the best choice for you. You could be looking forward to saving money in the very near future. More money for a pair of noise-canceling headphones, maybe an Instapot, more puzzles, whatever brings you joy. Get a quote today at progressive.com. It's one small step you can do today that can make a big impact on your budget tomorrow.
[00:42:42] Jen Harbinger: Progressive Casualty Insurance Company and affiliates. Comparison rates not available in all states or situations. Prices vary based on how you buy.
[00:42:49] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you so much for listening to and supporting the show. Now, all those URLs and discount codes, I know those can get complicated. We did put them all in one place and that place should work on your phone. It's at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support us.
[00:43:05] Now, for the rest of my conversation with Susan Cain.
[00:43:10] You note in your work that one out of every two or three people, you know, are introverts. And if those numbers are surprising to you, if you're listening to this, and you think, half the country, almost half the country, this is ridiculous. Think about this. How many introverts are pretending to be extroverts so that you don't even know who's which, right? Because I'm one of those people. Most people would never go, "Well, Jordan Harbinger, that he's one quiet guy that talk show host that puts out four hours of content every week. You know, he's definitely an introvert," but if you go by the tests and you look at the rest of my life, my fiance's parents, when they met me, they were like, "What do you do again?" Because I go to their house for dinner and we go there several times a week, they live really close. I just, I don't talk much. I'm reading, I'm looking at some researching or watching something, but very rarely am I showing up to the family event, running the thing like Tom Jones, right? I mean, I'm quiet except when I need to do this particular aspect of the job, which don't get me wrong, I love, it's my favorite part. However, you know, people like this, most likely that are introverts, but they're the one going up and giving the talk for the morning or they're your manager or there's so many that you manage were undercover, right? It's like aliens among us.
[00:44:18] Susan Cain: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I can tell you because of what I talk about all the introverts who are out there doing what you just described, they all tell me about it. And there's so many of them unofficial pool. It just seems to me that most people in the media are introverts. I don't mean necessarily like the cable talk show host people, but most print reporters, for sure. Most radio reporters, I would say. They're exactly the way you described yourself. It's really common and it's just people pass. And so we don't realize it.
[00:44:49] Jordan Harbinger: Because we're looking at everything through the extrovert ideal, which is that being quiet as a second-class trait. You don't want to do that. You want to be somebody who can be outgoing. And on the other hand, introverts are often painting themselves with the other side of the brush, which is, "Oh, well, since I'm not an extrovert, I'm an introvert. So now I have a medical excuse for being quiet and not networking and not developing relationships." And there's a lot of confusion as to what being introverted actually means. And I note this, when I teach a lot of networking or teach programs, it tends to be, "Well, you know, I'm an introvert, so I can't do the networking thing." And I don't believe that for a second. We look at the extrovert ideal. And then we as introverts, we like to hide behind the other side of that same coin, which is basically saying, "Look, I can't do this. Not, I don't like to, or not, I'm more comfortable elsewhere, but I can't do it because I took a Myers-Briggs in high school and they said I can't. So we're done working on that skill set now."
[00:45:44] Susan Cain: No, I know. And that is really the problem with any kind of labeling. And so it's something I always try to be really careful about because I think to an extent, one is going to label himself an introvert. You've got to do it in an empowering way and not the other way around.
[00:45:58] Like for example, with networking, I really do believe this, that if you're somebody who's introverted and you're going to a networking event, it's probably not the right goal for you to be like, "Okay, I'm the one who's going to work the room," but you can be the one who's going to go and look for a few kindred spirits, right? Connect with those people, and then really nurture those connections in an in-depth way.
[00:46:18] My whole life has been that way where I don't think I have the widest network around, but I have a really deep one of people who I love. And I feel like every good thing that's happened to me from meeting my literary agent, meeting my husband like that, it's all coming from this incredibly deep network.
[00:46:36] So I did this really great interview with Arianna Huffington and her daughter, Isabella. Ariana, she says she's a bit of an introvert, but she's obviously much more out there. And her daughter, Isabella is truly introverted and an artist. And Isabella told me that she's developed this kind of rule of thumb overtime, which is that when she has a social event, that she is feeling like she doesn't really want to go to, she asks herself, "Am I staying home out of fear? Or am I staying home just because I really honest to goodness would rather be painting in my studio right now?" And if the answer is that she just honest to goodness wants to do that, then it's okay. But if she's doing it out of fear, then she gives herself a push to go.
[00:47:18] Jordan Harbinger: Perfect. I think that's very important because you have to be able to sit down — and of course, that's a very introverted thing to do — let me examine my emotional state and figure out whether I'm doing this because of fear or whether I'm doing it because I really want to do something. And I find myself doing that a lot that does seem like a very perceptive, intuitive, or whatever label we want to throw on it.
[00:47:37] Speaking of labeling, that seems like a very introverted thing to do, which is look at your own motivations and examine those and then make a decision after that instead of just going for whatever.
[00:47:46] Susan Cain: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:47:48] Jordan Harbinger: Now, is it possible though, that those of us that have been told all you're in your head too much,, you're cerebral, you're quiet, is it possible that we would enjoy more professional success by shoring up what might, for some folks, might be weak social skills? Because I'm not saying introverts have weak social skills. I am saying that oftentimes they allow their social skills to get weak or be undeveloped because of what I've mentioned earlier, which is this sort of built-in medical excuse for not putting themselves in uncomfortable situations. I just want to highlight this because I don't want people to think, "Well, I have this, so I get a pass." I think it is important to do what your friend does, which is say, what reason am I doing this? Be very honest with yourself and give yourself a push where necessary.
[00:48:29] Susan Cain: Absolutely. I mean, so one of the things that we try to do when we go in and we work with people in companies, our approach is you should be figuring out, don't accept what you probably are hearing. If you're hearing it from someone who hasn't given this a lot of thought, you'll often be told, "Be more like your colleague down the hall who's more of an extrovert. Just like, be like that." And that's really not the answer.
[00:48:49] The answer is much more — can you figure out how to draw on your own natural strengths, use what comes naturally to you, and do that well. And then at the same time, you want to combine that with every so often you just have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and grit your teeth through it. The real key is, is how can you do it as naturally as possible? And I think finding a role model is so huge. You know, so somebody who's has a temperament like yours, who has a style like yours, who's doing the thing you want to be doing and they're doing it well. And you can channel that person during the moments that feel difficult for you can be really powerful.
[00:49:25] Jordan Harbinger: I think that's very wise. I mean, looking at somebody who we can emulate. And again, to be clear, introversion is not something where you have weak social skills. Introverts might have strong social skills, enjoy parties, business meetings, but after an hour and a half, two hours, I want to be home in my pajamas. It doesn't mean antisocial. It doesn't mean unable to socialize. And I think the confusion often comes from being shy versus introverted. I think a lot of people conflate the two, but why do they do that? Why do people conflate shyness versus introverted? Well, what's going on here because I think that results in a lot of annoying discomfort in really awkward situations or the labeling that you mentioned earlier.
[00:50:03] Susan Cain: The reason we tend to get confused is because shyness and introversion can lead to the same results, even though they might be coming from completely different motivations. So if you have, for example, somebody being quiet in a meeting, maybe they're being quiet because they feel shy and unsure of themselves. And maybe it's because they're feeling introverted, meaning sort of overstimulated. And by the time they think of the thing they want to say, the conversations are already moved ahead of them, but it kind of looks the same and so most people don't really think beyond that.
[00:50:35] But having said that, we really think of our work with Quiet Revolution as being about shyness as much as it is about introversion, because 50 percent of people will tell you that they feel shy at least for some significant portion of the time and that's real. And shyness too tends to be associated with all kinds of pro-social qualities, like being a loyal and caring friends, being very conscientious. It's sometimes associated with forms of aesthetic sensitivity.
[00:51:06] What I really want to say is anytime we find ourselves only privileging the MO — that's like take the bull by its horns and be dominant and be out there — you're probably leaving a lot of emotional and aesthetic value and humanity on the table.
[00:51:23] Jordan Harbinger: Well, I dig that. I agree at least as much as I can, based on having read your book and been at an introvert and otherwise have no expertise on the subject. This book is really interesting. I want to give you some prompts before we wrap here. Your work is really interesting. I mean, you've broken down how sensitive people have thinner boundaries, more sensitive to taste, light, and smell. How we, I should say, are often better negotiators, have closer social groups because they listen more than they talk, they think before they speak. There's a lot of expression in writing rather than conversation, which tends to be more well thought out, at least in my opinion. And there's just a whole lot here for the introvert or someone who suspects they might be, or for somebody who's close to an introvert, maybe married one, raising one.
[00:52:04] I do have a question though, a couple of final questions, which is how can one's culture influence our personalities in terms of introversion and extroversion? Because I noticed America, like we said before, nation of introverts, but I've also been to places in Asia and even Scandinavia, Finland, for example, Finns are notoriously introverted as well. Does our culture influence this and to what extent?
[00:52:25] Susan Cain: Yes. It influences it hugely. So, you know, in the book, I have a whole chapter where I talk about Asia and particularly Confucian-belt societies, where the ethos really is that everything is about group harmony. That's the true value. And if you want to have group harmony, you don't want to have any one person who's drawing too much attention to themselves because that's disruptive to the group. In these cultures, it's much more, there's an aphorism, the wind howls but the mountain remains still. So strength is seen as the person who has the ability to not be talking too much and can exercise restraint. It's completely the opposite of like the squeaky wheel gets the grease. So, you know, you do end up getting a lot of misunderstandings.
[00:53:09] For example, global business and you have people from a Confucian-belt society sitting in a meeting with people from New York society. You'll have misunderstandings where let's say people from Japan are maybe not agreeing with an idea that's been put forth in a meeting. We'd have a very different way of expressing that. In certain cases in Japan, you would not want to express your disagreement to directly because that would be disruptive and rude and inappropriate. So you can see how that leads to all kinds of misunderstandings.
[00:53:40] Jordan Harbinger: Sure. Well, that leads to my next question, very conveniently, which is, is our cultural preference here in the states or the west, I should say, for extroversion, is that the natural order of things or is that socially determined? It sounds like it's socially determined. And if you agree with that, then let me ask you this. Can introverts be leaders? Well, it seems like from an evolutionary perspective, introversion must have survived as a personality trait for a reason. What's the reason?
[00:54:05] Susan Cain: This is actually one of the first things that I wanted to look at. That's exactly the question I asked when I first started researching the book. The reason is, I mean, it's actually really interesting. You see introversion and extroversion in almost every single species of the animal kingdom, all the way down to fruit flies. You know, like there's some fruit flies that biologists call sitters because they tend to kind of sit still or stay in place. And then there are others who are rovers because they go out and they're more bold and exploratory. So really, all the way through you see this. And it's basically just because these are completely different survival strategies.
[00:54:39] And in some cases, when let's say food is scarce, it pays to be more of an extrovert because you're exploring and you're going to get the far-flung food. But then in other cases, for example, when there are lots of predators around, you do much better if you have a more circumspect strategy, staying behind your rock, let's say in the pond. When you think about it and you start looking at human behavior from that lens, it explains everything. And you start realizing you can't even imagine an organization that doesn't have both types of people in it, because like, you really need the people who are like, "Let's do this." And they're not really worried too much about the predators who are out there because they're just going to go and advance their thing. And then you need the people who are like, "Wait a minute. You know, there might be around that corner, some bigger fish that's going to eat us. And so let's think about this really deeply before we move ahead."
[00:55:28] How could you do anything really without those different approaches?
[00:55:32] Jordan Harbinger: Well, thank you so much, Susan Cain, and thank you for telling us that it's okay to be quiet. I really appreciate you and your work and your time here today.
[00:55:40] Susan Cain: Thank you so much for having me on the show. I really enjoyed it.
[00:55:44] Jordan Harbinger: I've got some thoughts on this episode, but before I get into that, here's a trailer from my interview with the Academy-Award winner, Matthew McConaughey.
[00:55:52] Matthew McConaughey: All right. All right. All right.
[00:55:54] Jordan Harbinger: Did you just kind of like walk down and get a coffee one day and everyone's like, "Oh, hey guy, I see here regularly." And then the next time it was like, "That's the guy from A Time to Kill."
[00:56:03] Matthew McConaughey: It wasn't coffee. It was a tuna sandwich. And it inverted, I mean, it went from 400 people in the promenade, 395 minding their own business, five of them looking at me to 395 was staring at me, five were not. The world became a mirror. Notice right there immediately. Oh, I don't meet strangers anymore. Who am I? When I am being told, I can kind of be whoever I want to be. And I was 23, 24. I checked out. I went to a monastery for a couple of weeks, went on a solo backpacking trip through Peru for 22 days. I needed some quiet time to hear my own self think and have little Socratic dialogue with the M and E.
[00:56:37] There's sobriety that comes when you lose a father. What I mean by sobriety is that there's a drunkenness we have in reverence for things in life. There's drunkenness we have in looking down upon things in life maybe we should. The sobriety is that everything I looked down upon, it rose up the eye level, everything I was revering on earth rose down to eye level. You know, you can engineer Greenlights for your future, by the choices and responsibilities you take today. They can give you more freedom tomorrow, but you don't do the work, you don't get the freedom.
[00:57:13] It's one of my favorite stories I've ever heard and told and I'm the subject in the middle of it. And I'm the one with the egg on my face throughout. The joke is on me. I look back at him and I'll just laugh my ass off. Oh my gosh. It was hilarious.
[00:57:31] Jordan Harbinger: For more, including how Matthew McConaughey makes a life-altering career decisions, check out episode 455 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:57:41] Such a good episode, loads of practical. Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. You can find her at quietrev.com, linked up in the show notes. Quiet Revolution, great name by the way, helps companies and schools to harness the talents of the introverted half of the workforce, which is very important and probably largely under utilized in many industries.
[00:58:01] By the way, Susan Cain, also has a brand new book out this year for 2022 called Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole. She shares how the most heartbreaking times and even the most tragic circumstances we face in life can lead us to greatness. We'll link to that in the show notes as well. Thanks again to Susan for doing the show. She's pretty difficult to book because she's an introvert. Go figure.
[00:58:23] Show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Please use our website links if you buy any book from any guest on the show, it does help support this. Transcripts in the show notes. Videos on YouTube. Advertisers, deals, and discount codes, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support us. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or hit me on.
[00:58:46] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships, using systems software and tiny habits. And it works great for introverts just like us. That's our Six-Minute Networking course. The course is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig the well before you get thirsty. Most of the guests you hear on the show subscribe and contribute to the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[00:59:08] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. You know an introvert or somebody who thinks they are, share this episode with them. I'd love to take away that medical excuse of no longer being social. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:59:43] This episode is also sponsored in part by True Underdog podcast. If you want to hear an uncut and uncensored podcast on entrepreneurship, check out True Underdog, where you can build the mindset of a winner. True Underdog hosted by Jayson Waller, CEO of PowerHome Solar. You'll hear uncut details of the world's most influential people and their upbringing. His shows featured guests like Shark Tank star Kevin O'Leary, top podcaster Jordan Harbinger — I feel like I've heard of that guy — former drug trafficker Freeway Rick Ross, NFL legend Barry Sanders, and many more to bring you inspiration. Raised in a trailer park with no clear path to success, kicked out of high school multiple times, and faced with becoming a father in his teens, Waller is the definition of a true underdog. As well, I will tell you there's no elevator to success. That climb only happens one step at a time. You'll learn how to turn excuses into results by doing.
[01:00:26] Jen Harbinger: Subscribe to True Underdog podcast on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite podcast platform to level up your life. That's True Underdog podcast, hosted by Jayson Waller to learn from the best underdog come-up stories. It's right here right now, bam!
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.