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Into Introversion?

30-50% of people on the planet have a preference for introversion (helpfully, it could be more it could be less).

So are the people working in corporates a skewed population? Or are the introverts just faking it?  I don’t remember working with many shrinking violets.

Did the introverts just learn to wear extrovert armour to cope with the exhausting effects of meetings, workshops, presentations, awaydays – all those ice-breakers, team-builders and drinks in the evenings

I identify as ambivert, I’m fluid with a bias to introversion: I do get energy from being with people, but I also observe that my social battery is finite (and like my phone’s battery it seems to die earlier as it gets older – and takes longer to recharge).

In my old corporate days, there were times when I had to really psych myself up to be more extrovert. I even remember bosses telling me I needed to get myself out more, network, make sure everyone knew my face etc.  It made me anxious.

I just flipping well wish Sarah Manley had written her book, Quiet Catalyst, showing how extroverts can thrive, much earlier in my career.

Because for a long time I thought there was something wrong with me.

Now I’m older I realise not only were many people feeling uncomfortable with all this extroversion, but also many assumed there was something wrong with them too. Thankfully now, we have research, role models and books like Sarah’s to prove our value to organisations and to society. Adam Grant even thinks we make better leaders.

Sarah is my guest on the latest Corporate Escapology podcast out now on Spotify and YouTube.

Sarah left a stellar corporate career in marketing working for giants like Danone and Phillips just last year, proving that introverts can thrive in big businesses – hurrah!

But she escaped and decided she wanted to help people like herself.  She trained as a coach – and has now just published her new book.

I’ve just finished it and it feels like she’s putting one arm round you saying ‘You’ve got this’ and another one behind you pushing you forward, encouraging you, helping you see – and then celebrate – the great things you can do (some of which are quite unique to introverts).

I particularly wanted Sarah on my podcast because I was interested whether introverted people were more fearful of the risks of leaving a job than more gung-ho extroverts. Were they more predisposed to feel trapped?

My hypothesis was that extroverts would take more risks, back themselves more and exit by doing, rather than prevaricating or procrastinating. And vice versa.

Sarah put me straight. She says yes introverts are less impulsive but they do not necessarily avoid risk.  The very fact that they are more reflective, weighing up pros and cons of a decision could mean in fact they are less likely to be seduced by the first opportunity that arises when exiting (e.g. a similar job) and more likely to know that that’s wrong for them.

Which is something of a relief to me, because I would hate for anyone to stay in a job feeling trapped, especially someone quieter who might well thrive in a different work environment, where they felt really valued for what they knew and could do.

I really enjoy working mostly from home, I absolutely love it. I feel more in control, I prefer not losing time like I did in the office to ad hoc meetings and people appearing at my desk, I feel more connected to my family.  I actually enjoy Zoom calls, they give me enough energy and then I love switching them off.

This coming week I’m running a two day workshop for all the new startups who’ve joined the accelerator programme I’m running.  I’ve got some Big Wigs coming from the client too. It’s one of those Go Big or Go Home moments.

This is something I would have dreaded when I was in my old job.  Dreaded for weeks as it approached. And yet I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll be an extrovert for two days, genuinely enjoying getting to know new people, firing up my energy.

And I also know that all my energy will be depleted by the end of Tuesday and I’ll have to recover on the train with noise-cancelling headphones and a Pret hot chocolate.

It’s back to variety for me. Like desserts, I like a bit of everything.

Variety is one of the reasons I stay working like this. And it’s why I can resist the job offers and adverts on LinkedIn – because no single job could ever give me this kind of variety.

And where that variety feels on my terms too.

Playing to my introverted biases and all the strengths they give me.

Give the podcast a listen – and do buy Sarah’s book. Whether you’re an introvert struggling or just wanting to thrive – or if you work with or lead introverts, it’s terrific. Sarah is a first time author like me. Putting ideas together into a book is a big task – an emotional one too, because we do it to help people, because we know why and how they’re struggling – because we were them (and maybe still are them).


Corporate Escapology is out in just a month now – July 2nd. You can pre-order it on Amazon or Bookshop.org…my self-promotion is going to ramp up a bit now, so please forgive me, I have one big chance to get the title of Amazon Best Seller so I need your help!

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