Two years ago, my friend Jonathan Fields gave me a call and asked if he could pass my name on to Susan Cain, author of the bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking, as a resource for the training project she was undertaking. I had met Susan once and loved her work, so of course I said yes.
At that moment (June, 2013), I was in the very last throes of writing Body of Work. The day after I turned in final edits on the manuscript, I began working with Susan and Paul Scibetta, her business partner who would become the CEO of the organization. I learned that they not only wanted to create a corporate training program from the Quiet material, but they had a much bigger vision — to create a Quiet Revolution, gently nudging the world to recognize and celebrate the natural strengths of introverts. What I thought would be a small consulting project turned into two years of intensive partnership.
My role shifted through time from acting COO in the early start up stage to a consultant for the Quiet Leadership Institute (QLI), the workplace training arm of the Quiet Revolution. When West Point graduates and Army veterans Mike Erwin and Jeff Bryan joined QLI, program development went into high gear. Mike and Jeff closed a deal with NASA, where in our very first pilot of our workshop materials, we taught rocket scientists who worked on the space shuttle. I can safely say it was the highest stakes debut of a new program I have ever been part of. The participants were amazing, and they loved the material. We were working under stealth mode, so now I can finally show you the pic from that event:
Jeff and I in awe of the shadow of NASA facilities. It was a day I will always remember.
We continued to extend the QLI reach, most recently with senior research scientists at P&G, where we are bringing the Quiet Leadership program. Kathy Fish, P&G’s Chief Technology Officer (a really wonderful person, and great example of an introverted leader) was quoted in today’s Fortune article about our work there.
Why a Quiet Revolution?
One of the biggest things I have learned since working with Susan is that the popular definition of “introvert” is wildly inaccurate. Webster’s Dictionary defines introvert as:
“a shy person, a quiet person who does not find it easy to talk to other people.”
This is, quite simply, inaccurate.
Introversion is driven by neurobiology — specifically the triggers that release dopamine in our brain. Introverts’ dopamine flow starts when they have periods of quiet reflection, in peaceful and not overly stimulating environments. Extroverts’ dopamine flows when we are in stimulating environments, responding to body language cues like smiling faces or nodding heads.
The extrovert bias that Susan mentions in her record-breaking TED talk and in Quiet says that in order to be successful — in school, in the workplace and even in relationships — you must act as an extrovert. This negates the deep and profound gifts of introverts, like prudence, love of learning, judgment and humility.
The goal of the Quiet Revolution is to celebrate the strengths of introverts, for the benefit of us all. I am a raging extrovert, with deep love and respect for introverts. In my bio for the QR team, I wrote:
“One of my earliest childhood memories is sitting in a row of folding chairs lined up facing Lake Almanor, where we camped every year. My father, mother, sister, brother and I all had our noses in books, speaking up only about once an hour to read an especially juicy passage aloud.
And yet I, unlike the rest of my family, would engage in conversation with anyone who walked by. I would pepper the camp ranger with questions, tell my life story to the campers next door, and make friends with the small town grocer where we would buy fresh milk.
I was (and am) the sole extrovert in my family. In the decades since, I have learned what a gift it is to deeply understand the nature and gifts of introverts. I am comfortable waiting a full 5 minutes in silence after asking my Dad a question, to give him time to reflect and gather his thoughts. I am acutely aware of how jarring an assault it is on introverted audience members to shout from the stage “Can I get a YES or YES?!!!” This is due to my socialization in a family culture that celebrates solitude, reflection and silence.”
How to learn more:
Here are some resources my friend Claire Diaz-Ortiz (Chief Digital Officer for Quiet) put together for us to share:
- The original Susan Cain TED talk is a fantastic overview of all things Quiet. If you haven’t seen it — it’s one of the most viewed of all time — watch!
- For digging in deeper, download this free 40-page ebook: The Power of Introverts: Nine Best-Loved Stories by Susan Cain.
- See this great section of the site devoted to regular folks. Think Humans of New York. It’s called Quiet Revolutionaries and I love reading through the stories.
- For parents like me, check out the Kids section for perspectives from writers, experts, and educators on what it means to be a quiet kid (or parent).
- The chock-full Work section has ideas, advice, and inspiration for anyone trying to carve their own career niche.
I have waited a long time for this day, where I can share with you this huge project I spent a lot of time working on. While we started with some huge benefits not normally available to new entrepreneurs — a hugely popular book and TED talk, seasoned founders with access to lots of resources and capital — I will tell you that it has not been an easy process. So much work has gone into building this organization to the point that it was ready for public launch. Many wonderful team members contributed along the way, before the full-time team came aboard. I am thankful to you all!
As a person who is passionately committed to furthering education about our unique strengths and differences, so that we more deeply respect and harmonize with each other, as well as being a community builder by design, this is a very happy day.
Enjoy Quietrev.com !