What Steve Wozniak, Charles Darwin and Dr Seuss have in common: Susan Cain
Susan Cain is the author Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and presenter of one of the Top 20 most viewed TED Talks of all time. I had the privilege of interviewing Susan after her keynote at the Inbound conference in Boston.
[If you’re interested in finding out more about the book, here’s another blog post I wrote – 3 Lessons from Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking]
Here is the transcript:
Toby Jenkins: Susan, thanks very much for taking a bit of time to do this interview.
Susan Cain: Sure.
Toby Jenkins: One of the things I’ve just seen Susan present on is ‘the power of introverts‘ and how you can make the most of them. But also one of the things that I really liked about your presentation was the fact that anyone – regardless of whether you’re introvert or extrovert – you really should be taking time out and cultivating solitude to get the best out of yourself and others around you as well. So would you mind expanding on that concept?
Susan Cain: Yeah, absolutely. It’s funny, we have this idea nowadays that I call the ‘new group think‘, which is this idea that creativity comes from a very gregarious place. This comes from research that has shown that it is an important part of creativity to actually be having conversations and hear ideas from other people. But what we’re losing with all of that is something equally true, which is that solitude and going off by yourself is an incredibly important part of being creative. What we know from looking at the lives of the most spectacularly creative people over time is that most of them have serious streaks of introversion in them.
Toby Jenkins: Yeah, right.
Power of Solitude
Susan Cain: These are people who want to go off by themselves, and be creative by themselves. From Charles Darwin to Dr. Seuss to Steve Wozniak, who invented the first personal computer, to Philippe Starck, the great innovative designer of our time: all of these people were people who wanted to go off by themselves and work alone. So that’s something that extroverts can really learn from introverts, because introverts will go off on their own naturally because their temperaments enable them to do that.
Toby Jenkins: Sure.
Susan Cain: Extroverts, I think, need to learn how to do that.
Daily habits to improve productivity
Toby Jenkins: Yeah, absolutely. Is there like a habit, or are there suggestions that you’ve got around how you can fit that into your daily routine?
Susan Cain: I think it depends on what your workplace is like. So for some people, they work in such group-oriented workplaces and open plan offices that they really have to work hard to carve out that personal time, and you kind of have to do whatever you can to get it. If you have a little more freedom in your life, then it’s just figuring out what your ritual is going to be.
Toby Jenkins: Yeah.
Susan Cain: For me, when I’m writing, I always go off to a cafe or to a library.
Toby Jenkins: Right.
Susan Cain: So it’s not actually being totally alone. There are people around me, but I’m in a zone where I’m not really interacting with people.
Toby Jenkins: Yeah, right.
Susan Cain: I feel their energy, but I’m in my own space.
Toby Jenkins: No, that’s great. Well, thanks very much, Susan.
Susan Cain: It’s a pleasure.
Toby Jenkins: Would you mind, just in terms of other people catching up with you and finding out more about your book: where can they find you, the title of your book, all of that kind of stuff?
Susan Cain: Yeah, sure. The book is called “Quiet, The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” I guess, as an introvert, I feel embarrassed saying this, but I can say it’s actually become an instant bestseller all over the world. What else am I supposed to say? Oh, and how people can connect with me.
Toby Jenkins: Yeah, your blog and how they can find you.
Susan Cain: Yeah. I love to hear from readers and to connect with readers. I’m on Twitter. @SusanCain is my handle. I’m on Facebook, and I have a blog called ThePowerofIntroverts.com. You can find me there.
Connect with Susan Cain:
Connect with Susan Cain on Twitter @SusanCain and Facebook, and check out Susan’s book, the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking; and her blog – The Power of Introverts.