Susan Cain – Catalyst 2012

Ken Coleman: This is an interesting book. She gave a TED talk. It is one of the most popular downloads in history. The subtitle of your book is The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking? Why did you write this book? Why is it important for us to know?

SC: If you look at many of the great artists or leaders of our time, they did what they did because of their temperments, not in spite of them. Gandhi, Steve Wozniak, etc. did amazing things, and yet we structure our world to make the most of extroverted talents and not of introverts.

It's not just a problem for introverts. We're all missing out on the contribution of introverts.

KC: How did we get there? And give us a real example of what this looks like?

SC: We used to live in a culture of character, then around the turn of the 20th Century we moved into the era of big business and turned to valuing charisma and dominance.

Figures like Abraham Lincoln were known for being honest and unassuming.

KC: I Think a lot of us don't get this.

SC: When we were going to school we did most of our work autonomously. Now it's all group work all day. This works for the extroverted children. It doesn't work so well for the introverts. But it's not great for the extroverts either. One of the key ingredients of creativity is the ability to work alone in solitude.

KC: I want to talk about parenting and then leadership. I am an extreme extrovert, and mo oldest son is almost an extreme introvert. How do we parent children who are introverts without forcing them to be something they don't want to be.

SC: The primary thing is a mind shift of starting not just to accept these children for who they are but to delight in them. It's up to you as a parent to communicate this to tehm. Introverted kids have a longer runway. To get to a place of comfort they have a longer runway.

KC: Now let's switch it to leaders. How do introvert leaders need to lead extroverts, and vice-versa.

SC: There's groundbreaking research that shows that introverts often make better leaders than extroverts.

For extrovert leaders, allow introverts to run with their ideas and work on their own. Research shows that people often do better work when working along.

There are introverted and extroverted individuals in nearly every species. From fruit flies to lions to humans.

KC: How can people connect with you beyond this conference?

SC: For those of you who are interested in moving the quiet revolution forward, visit

Posted at 11:03 AM on October 4th, 2012
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