Sunday, January 22, 2012

Self-Promotion for Introverts - Aaaargh!

Self-Promotion for Introverts

Let's say that I read "Self-Promotion for Introverts" by an Nancy Ancowitz. And, let just say that it took a bit of perseverance to get past the first hundred pages. But, bit-by-bit Ancowitz weaves a reasonable strategy for getting ahead as an introvert.

First, Disclaimers

I'm an introvert, I score deep into the "I" of Myers-Briggs. Second, I have report to plenty of managerial extroverts. I am project manager leading teams of developer and engineering introverts. 

"Self-Promotion" is not a skill that I have on the top of my resume. 

Third, I only settled into my "OK, I get the point" appreciation of this work on page 213 where Susan Cain garners a couple pages of coverage. Susan Cain blogs "Quiet: The Power of Introverts" and Tweets as @SusanCain

Do You Focus on Your Strengths?

While reading Ancowitz I was reflecting on Cain. A subtle but important difference in style is that Cain seems more comfortable as an introvert and writes from a position of confidence, strength and authenticity. Ancowitz is described as an "outgoing introvert".

One of my deep felt values is to recognize the efforts of a team. When my team kicks-butt and takes names I make sure to push them forward on the stage. To me that is leadership. When my teams miss, or fail, the I shove them to the back and try to deflect the heat. Remember, my managers are extrovert, and my team is introvert. 

Self-promotion is not the same as leadership.

Do You Focus on Your Weaknesses?

Ancowitz coaches the introvert to jump out of their comfort zone, to consider actions wildly outside of their "box". Chapter 3 is where the reader is encouraged to "Pick the activities you like best -- or find the least objectionable". Where planning, designing, contemplating are identified as most comfortable, pod-casting, and quirky elevator speeches (p. 134) are clearly a high hurdle. Being an introvert does not automatically make you a good writer. If only Chapter 3 "Your Game Plan" was presented a little later in the book as the culmination of all of the other exercises in the book.

Recently, I had lunch with a nice-looking female friend that joined a high tech company from a non-high tech background. She mentioned that the engineers were really geeky. When walking towards her in the hallway they try to look as far down and away from her as possible. So of course, she says "hello" to all of them. A building full of introverts - successful introverts.

A Republican from San Francisco?

I moved to Columbus, OH after nearly 30 years growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. By chance I was invited to see a speech where Arnold Schwarzenegger was to introduce George Bush. Standing in line outside the Nationwide Arena, and eavesdropping on a few conversations, it was very clear that I wasn't a "real" Republican. At any moment I felt like they would pull me aside, ask me to show my gun and Bible, then confiscate my ticket as an impostor.

I wonder if an introvert from NYC is the same distance from the standard definition of "introvert" as is a Republican from San Francisco is from a Ohio Republican?

Bottom Line:

What is it that drives women with straight hair want curly hair, and vice versa? 

Would an author offering suggestions to Extroverts encourage them to spend time meditating, reading, and spending quality time sitting quietly with their spouse? 

If Ancowitz feels that the starting point for this conversation is "the staggering bias against introversion", even though we are "roughly half the population" maybe this is a straight/curly philosophical debate. And a final nit: if your work can quote conversations  with Chita Rivera, Bill Clinton, Warren Buffet, (and plenty of other high-powered people), then leave out the "let's call this friend, 'Steve'...". If "Steve" doesn't want to be identified, use another example.  

In the meantime, I'll work to make my box a little larger, and wait for the Jan 24th release of Susan Cain's "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking".

P.S. The correct answer to straight/curly: beware a third party actor with an agenda.

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