The NEOS Marketing team attended a 3-day Marketing summit in Boston last week hosted by Hubspot. There were a lot of great seminars about social media and how business is changing today, but one keynote speech really stood out to me. The speaker was Susan Cain who wrote a book called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking“. I thought she had a really interesting take on the business world today and the different types of personalities out there…and how extroversion has become the presumed model for how to be successful in business even though between one-third and one-half of Americans are actually introverts.
During her keynote, Susan gave us a 5 question verbal quiz to find out how many of the people in the audience were actually introverts. And it was actually very surprising to find out that probably half of the 2,800 attendees turned out to be introverts based on this quiz. The funny thing is, that according to Susan, many introverts might not even realize they ARE introverts (including myself!). She told us that most introverts have just become so accustomed to acting like extroverts because that’s the norm in business today and in society as a whole.
So many settings in business today require people to be extroverted to some extent… meetings, working in groups, brainstorming sessions…if you want your idea to be heard, you usually have to be willing to speak up… which makes sense, although might not be comfortable for a lot of people. So Susan actually had a few interesting suggestions on how to tap into the power and potential of introverts in a business environment. Here are two of the ideas that I found the most interesting…
- Rethink meetings. Sometimes when there are so many people trying to get their points across at once during a meeting, it’s hard for others to jump in and be heard. We may be missing out on some of the greatest ideas, because someone didn’t speak up or because the meeting was moving too fast for them to jump in. Susan has a few suggestions for this…
– Hand out action items prior to the meeting and ask everyone to brainstorm on
their own and bring their thoughts to discuss at the meeting.
- Have people jot down any ideas that they have throughout a meeting if they
weren’t able to be touched upon when that topic was being discussed. Pause the
meeting, or at the end of the meeting, circle back and ask people to share
anything they have written down.
– Electronic Brainstorming – keep open communication going after the meeting via
email or other electronic means.
- Rethink office space. Different personality types flourish in different work environments. While some people might enjoy an open, collaborative office set up… others might find that intimidating and have trouble getting their work done. A good office design should have a balance. Susan notes Google’s offices as a good example of this balance.
– Have spaces for unplanned, casual interactions.
– Balance open, collaborative areas with more private areas… Susan calls these
“nooks and crannies”
Susan’s keynote was about an hour long, so she covered a lot more than what I have mentioned here… I just wanted to share with you the basics of her philosophy because it was something that I hadn’t really considered before and thought was pretty interesting.
What do you think of Susan’s philosophy about introverts and business today? Comment below!