Before the dawn of all-things-digital, success in business was almost exclusively awarded to extroverts, something researchers have called “extroversion bias”. Those that could close the sale, swap business cards, and work a room with charm and charisma were thought to have a distinct advantage over their more quiet, introspective peers who often wiled away in bookish jobs that kept them largely unseen and unheard.
Now more than ever, the stigmas around introversion and extroversion in creative businesses are changing.
As introverts increasingly assume the role of "boss", they're able to build processes that fit how they naturally process, rather than conform to standards that simply measure how they perform.
Workplaces, schools, and cultural settings are seeing a dramatic shift that hybridizes expression-focused processes and goal-focused processes, so that introverts and extroverts can work together to solve problems and move business forward.
In her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts, Susan Cain asserts that introverts have many unique advantages in business and creativity that make them extraordinary leaders. They cherish time alone, a crucial ingredient to creative living. They can concentrate on complex tasks, and focus in a way that brings them to creative “flow”. And, they’re more sensitive to their own needs and the needs of others, which makes them extraordinarily empathetic creatives who often design experiences for others.
Both Joseph and I identify as introverts who can turn the extrovert switch “on” with a little extra effort. For the large part, however, we’re textbook cases of introverted leaders who have built a successful business around processes that embrace the qualities we naturally gravitate to: quiet time, introspection and reflection, small group collaboration, and one-on-one communication. The creative entrepreneurs we work with identify in many of the same ways, which is a main reason why we've built our process around quiet collaboration that allows the innermost thoughts and feelings rise to the surface on their own instead of forcing them out through conversation. On the other hand, quiet time to review and reflect on what our clients share with us allows us to properly "enter" the emotions that create stories worth sharing.
Quiet time to reveal, reflect, and recharge is the key ingredient that helps our clients extract the most emotional parts of their stories, and helps us distill those stories into content worth sharing.
Because our work is largely emotional, creative, and reflective, we spend the our days parsing human feelings and shared experiences. We highlight our clients’ Emotional Targeting Workbooks, look for themes, and build stories around narratives in an effort to help our clients – many of whom are also introverts – tell their stories without going unseen and unheard.
Here are a few ways our process helps introverts express themselves:
1. Quiet reflections over on the spot declarations.
There’s a reason our Emotional Targeting Workbooks are customized for each client and created by hand every time: because no two stories are ever the same and no two audiences are ever identical.
The workbooks we create are designed to help the people we work with – whether they be introverts, extroverts, or somewhere in between – find a meaningful excuse to work in solitude. In the process of working solo, each client is given an opportunity to express details about themselves they wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable delving into during face-to-face conversations. The perceived anonymity often allows clients to share the most meaningful parts of themselves in ways that go beyond surface-level conversations and into the most powerful pieces of their story – pieces that position them for greater authentic connection with their communities.
2. Intentional feedback over immediate reactions.
While we’re in constant communication with our clients about project progress and what happens next in the process, we rarely exchange feedback in realtime.
Since most of our discussions happen over Google Drive and Basecamp, our introverted clients can feel comfortable giving feedback once they’ve had time to review and reflect on what we’ve shared with them. Rather than scheduled feedback by phone or video chat, we give our clients the time and space they need to react to drafts, edits, and revisions, which in turn gives us time to present new options and ideas.
This method also works well for our clients who work in different time zones, early in the morning or late ate night, or who often travel. We love that we can give and receive feedback when our energy is at its highest, and our clients are free to do the same.
3. Meaningful face-to-face time over mandatory meeting times.
While our process is designed to help us as introverts and our clients who identify as introverts, we don’t shy away from face-to-face time when it makes the most sense.
In fact, our very first conversation with new clients happens in person, so can get a sense for each other’s personality. This also helps us pick up on the client cues like their voice, tone, and cadence, which ultimately finds its way into the content.
Rather than scheduling mandatory meeting times that force people to turn their switches “on", we meet with clients when there’s something important to say or valuable to share. This prevents clients from clamming up when forced to make conversation, and gives us a meaningful agenda rather than a bulleted list of things to “get through”.