I’m a conflicted demi-introvert.
In the post-lockdown era, I’m thriving. Sitting at home in my underwear with a hot water bottle to save on heating bills, in front of a Steve Jobs machine, is glorious. There’s nothing better. No eyes watching over me. No death-eater stares from Karen in operations.
But I’m not always an introvert. I like a sugar rush of extrovertism too. PhD genius and psychologist Benjamin Hardy says your personality isn’t permanent. I agree.
Regardless of whether you think you’re introverted, extroverted, or a conflicted extrovert like me, the world is slowly transitioning to introvert domination. I’m clapping silently. Here’s what it means for you.
Extroverted confidence is fake
Ya’ll know that smooth-talking sales guy or gal that works in your company? They’re mostly fake. I have spent an entire career around them. I’ve befriended them. The truth is, after hours they’re not so confident at all.
I worked with one fellow. Every business deal he touched turned to one-hundred-dollar bills. The beautiful speeches he gave with Powerpoint decks were incredible. Oscar award-winning, even. Senior leaders voted for him favorably at performance review time. I looked up to him. I dreamt of having confidence like that. Imagine the places I could go, or the people I could meet.
One day I came to work. He wasn’t there. He didn’t return for months. Mr Confidence got a divorce. It nearly ruined him. He hit rock bottom. Turns out he was a terrible husband at home. He treated his wife like trash and blamed her for what he deemed to be a terribly boring career.
The confidence you look up to is probably fake. Most confident people are making stuff up as they go like the rest of us. You just can’t see what that does to them after hours when they’re home with family.
The Creator Economy favors introverts
Us creators are typically introverts. My favorite writers such as Zulie Rane, Sean Kernan, Michael Thompson, and Sinem Gunel are all introverts. You get on a call with them and the last thing they talk about is how many followers they have. That’s what an extrovert does. Creators are less about the metrics and more about the reason they’re putting their art into the world.
The Creator Economy is a term used for those of us who write words, take photos, make videos, sell artwork, play computer games, and record podcasts. Big business has successfully muffled the creator economy for years.
Now with so many platforms for creators — Teachable, Substack, WordPress, LinkedIn, Twitter, Ghost — our voices have returned, although they’re not fully unleashed yet until Web 3.0. gives us full ownership of our content.
These creator tools allow us to work from home. We don’t need to go to an office and smile for the extroverts. We don’t need to turn on our Zoom camera when we’re in a meeting with a client. We can simply be our quiet selves and get paid for it.
The tidal wave of change hasn’t quite been realized yet. Businesses still haven’t figured out that real content is the foundation of every dollar they make. Business is still buying fake content known as ads, and hoping they can sublimely convince normal people to take a chance on them. We all know where that leads: broken promises.
Introvert demand is rising. This is how we’ll slowly take over the world without anybody knowing.
If you can sit at home in your underwear then join our introvert army.
There’s not much to be learned from extrovertism
I used to do coffee like a caffeine junkie. Not so much anymore. I’d roll up to the coffee, hoping to learn one new thing.
Most of the time, I’d be bombarded with the other person listing their achievements, trying to look good. It did nothing for my life education. Or the opposite would happen–an extrovert complaint session.
This is where they’d tell me how unfair life is and how they can’t get more of the success metrics that actually ruin our lives — luxury cars, designer clothes, big mansions with rooms that never get used, pools that are no better than the local ocean, etc.
I gave up on extrovert learning.
Instead, since lockdown, I’ve gone right back to books again. I can lie down in my bed with an iPad, the Kindle app, and a good book recommended to me by a fellow introvert. I can sit there in complete silence and let the words bounce off the page and make the world quieter.
Then after a peaceful reading session, I can write what I learned down in my notepad and be better for it. In the last few weeks, I’ve met magicians who turned honest, writers who went from commentating finance markets to writing the most vulnerable stuff you’ve ever read, to those who have suffered through war and come out the other side wanting to stop the violence.
Silent learning is better than loud talking.
Over-talkers lose. Listeners win.
The trouble with talking is it’s easy to overdo. I’m guilty of that. Working in consulting taught me this lesson. Football teams of consultants would line up in meetings to get in front of clients.
They wanted to talk “at” the client.
They’d lob boulders of useless information at them. The client would duck for cover by politely saying, “let me think about it.” They’d never return our calls. But blocking the noise-makers from future meetings was impossible. So we kept losing simple opportunities to consult. Revenue fell off a cliff. The loud ones scratched their head. “Morrrre solutions?”
What the client wanted when I dug deeper was for us to come and listen — not talk. They wanted us to hear deeply about where they were at. They didn’t want a solution. In fact, they told me they were drowning in solutions. The internet can tell you a million solutions. What the internet can’t do is let you sit on its lap like a child and hear your problems.
This is a huge opportunity for introverts.
I learned during my consulting days to attend a meeting and simply listen. For some reason I got all the business opportunities. Yet, I did almost zero selling. The customers found all the listening so refreshing that I became their go-to person. I did one other thing differently: remembered the names of their family and what their number one hobby was.
Would you prefer to deal with a quiet person who listened, knew your name, and was genuinely interested in your hobby, or a loud buffoon who can’t stop talking? The answer is obvious. See, this is why introverts will dominate.
Introverts seem weird because loudness has dominated the world. We’re biased towards outspoken noise. Look where all the noise got us: a broken financial system with trillions of dollars of free money being metaphorically dropped from helicopters, and climate issues that need urgent attention.
Change is coming. Lockdown has transformed me into an introvert. Former extroverts like me are morphing into quiet beings. Maybe the same has happened to you. Lean into the subtle shift.
Listening enables solutions that create change and lead to action. That’s why introverts are going to rule the world.