Unleashing Your Inner Willy Loman

Willy_Loman_01It’s time to let the world know what you have to offer – even if you’re offering 2 for 1 deals on recycled sweat socks.

We get it. You’re an introvert. You don’t like bringing attention to yourself. But face it, it’s hard to succeed if no one knows you or what you do unless you’re being monitored by Homeland Security.

Fortunately, the same skills that got you voted in high school “Most Likely to Strike Up a Conversation with a Potted Plant” can help unleash your inner, socially-averse self-promoter.

Using just a few of your introvert strengths, you can show the world what you have to offer.

  • Listen and observe – (Please note: observing your neighbor through your telescope does not count.) By talking less, and listening and observing more, introverts can pick up on conversational subtleties that others don’t. For example, after one short conversation, you may conclude: “This is the perfect person with whom to merge my multi-national corporation” or “Why doesn’t he trim his nose hairs?”
  • Manage your energy – Attending an entire two-hour networking event is exhausting. Better to cut it down to a more manageable amount of time, say 20 seconds, 25 if the food is good. Then it’s time to head off to the nearest empty coat closet and collapse into an exhausted ball on the floor.
  • Go with your strengths – Why try to sound like an expert nuclear arms negotiator when you can dazzle them with your real strength: sleight of hand magic tricks. It doesn’t matter if your potential employer is looking for an experienced project manager. When delivered with confidence and authority, stories about your years as a one-legged Hooters waitress will seal the deal and put you a hop, step and jump ahead of the competition.
  • Prepare what to say – If you’re too nervous to speak extemporaneously, memorize your talking points. If that’s too hard, bring along a portable teleprompter. And keep it simple. Don’t try to impress with flowery language when monosyllable grunts will suffice. A rule of thumb: Never attempt to remember anything that you’d forget while screaming the same thing during sex.
  • Share your experiences – An entertaining story about convincing a Nigerian prince to buy a non-existent Florida timeshare is bound to help you land a new account or great job. People may not connect your face with your business card, but they’ll never forget the woman who talked about being abducted by a UFO.
  • Build meaningful connections – Introverts excel at one-on-one relationships. They may not remember everyone they encountered at crowded parties, but they remember every conversation, word-for-bark, they had with the host’s pet. Self-promoting for introverts works the same way. Don’t focus on meeting lots of people. Rather, build a relationship with the assistant sales manager with whom you chatted for hours about migratory robots.
  • Be honest with yourself – Introverts are notoriously bad phony phonies. It consumes too much energy – energy that can be used for other endeavors, like endlessly replaying conversations in your head. When in doubt, look at yourself in the mirror (it’s okay to avoid eye contact) and give it to yourself straight. After all, no one knows you better than you – and perhaps your therapist who plans make you the subject of her next book.

Self-Promotion For Recluses

Aside from feinting, I thought my presentation went well.

If you’ve ever spent an evening at a networking event wondering which alias to write on your name tag, you know self-promotion can be tough for introverts.

Self-promotion goes against an introvert’s nature. (Some would say better nature.) Unfortunately, it’s hard to succeed without putting yourself out there, even if “out there” feels like having a bad case of acne at a clothing-optional bus stop.

Extroverts love waxing poetic about their achievements. Introverts, on the other hand, would rather stay at home and write in their journal, “Today, I invented a cure for bad foreign accents.”

Unfortunately, unless you’re pursuing a home-based career in envelope stuffing, some self-promotion is required for professional and personal growth.

The good news is the same qualities that impel introverts to avoid social interaction also makes them great self-promoters. For example, you’re not just a person nervously standing alone at a meet-and-greet; you’re an entrepreneur promoting your freelance mime business.

The secret to being a great introvert self-promoter is doing what works for you and then finding people who appreciate you and what you do – whether it’s your creative mind, boundless energy or uncomfortable facial expression.

Deciding When to Decide

TED Squawks – Spreading Ideas Like Fertilizer

Ted_squwalks_01When is the right time to think about when is the right time? Jared Waverino has been asking that question since 1992 when, after 20 years, he decided to move out of his parent’s basement.

In an extraordinary, frank talk, he explains how thinking, rethinking and thinking again can liberate our minds. Jared identifies three key situations at affect living fulfilling and well-thought-out lives: Ordering Big Macs without considering the rest of the menu; Choosing a lover without checking out the dating pool in every other country; and calling 911 without first deciding at least different 10 ways to say “I’ve been robbed!”

Waverino says, “Yes, some societies have progressed by taking bold, quick action, but never forget that before there was ‘We the people’ there was ‘Us the people’ and “Everybody here’.”

Jared Waverino, anthropologist, obsessive neurotic has spent years studying how baboons make choices. He’s the author of the best-selling book “I May or May Not Want Another Banana.”

The Power of Overthinking


thethinkerjpgDo you run things over in your mind again and again and again?

Is most of your day consumed by contemplating whether to switch from boxers to briefs?

Have you spent hours beating yourself up because you didn’t complement your Uber driver’s stylishly-trimmed neck line?

Psychologists have a name for this behavior when exhibited by introverts:

It’s called Normal.

In most cases, overthinkers have two options:

  1. Try to stop or moderate your behavior. This might work. You could also end up spending years telling yourself, “I’m going to stop overthinking. I’m going to stop overthinking, I’m going to…”
  2. Use it to your advantage. Some of history’s most famous people were overthinkers: Thomas Edison (“I can’t stop thinking about light bulbs.”); Christopher Columbus (“I can’t believe I told Queen Isabella I’d find a route to the East Indies or die trying.”); and Fleetwood Mac (“Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.”)

Overthinking is not a curse. It’s a gift. A gift that keeps giving and giving and giving until it gives you an idea that cures cancer or endless ways to say to neurotic semi-strangers, “I’m sorry. I’m just not into couples counselling on the first date.”

Oddly Happy Odd Couples

Are you skeptical about introvert/extrovert relationships? Let these couples set you straight.

 odd_couple_07 Marshall: When we met, we didn’t think we had a thing in common. Then we realized we both love small-time robberies and driving getaway cars.

Lisa: I won’t lie, Marshall’s long periods of silence sometimes bother me, but he more than makes up for it when he wakes up during the night screaming.

 odd_couple_02 Babs: I appreciate Sam’s life experiences, like being declared legally dead for three years.

Sam: Babs gets me out of the house and shows me another view of the world. Without her, I’d never experience the pure joy of taking her laundry to the dry cleaners.

 odd_couple_03 Julie: Jerry doesn’t always understand my need for alone time, especially when I’m hibernating. But there’s something about him I find so attractive, especially his cute smile when he chews on a wildebeest.

Jerry: My friends said we’d have nothing in common, but I fell in love with Julie the second I saw her trying to catch a fish in a river.

 odd_couple_04 Carmella: Romaine respects my need for my own space. Sometimes up to three inches apart.

Romaine: Carmella has a quiet side that I may never understand, as she may never grasp my desire to spend months with the Guatemalan National badminton team. Still, the only thing that can separate us is a severe cold.

 odd_couple_01 Francesca: It was tough when we first started dating. I wanted to go out and party every night. He wanted to stay home and read or talk about his dust bunny collection.

Lionel: Francesca opened my eyes to new world. I’m still quiet and shy, but have to admit I love going with her to clothing-optional Bingo nights.

 odd_couple_06 Spiros: I never believed I’d ever meet a woman who would understand an uncontrollably-sobbing introvert like me until I met Titania – as opposed to most people who find me unintelligible when I’m weeping.

Titania: Truth be told, I’ve never been turned on by bawling baby types, but there’s something tender and otherworldly about Spiros. I can’t take my eyes off him when he’s crawled up in a fetal position.

 odd_couple_05 Bert: We’ve always had a great working relationship. We respect our differences and give each other space. I’ve treasured our time together.

Ernie: There was a time when we both questioned our sexual identity. (It doesn’t help not having genitalia.) Then we said, “What the hell, being an introvert/extrovert couple is the least of our problems.

Bert: It would take more than extended periods of bone-chilling silence to wipe the smile off this puppet’s face.


You Say Potato And I Daydream Potato

Mom, Dad, doesn’t Neil have the nicest eyes?

Most introverts would rather be in a relationship with another introvert. It makes sense. Who better to understand your solitary ways than someone who also requests a table for one at wedding receptions?

However, since there are more extroverts than introverts, it’s highly probable you could end up with an otherwise wonderful person who belongs to a 20,000-member book club.

Is it possible for an introvert and an extrovert have a normal, happy, fulfilling relationship? People have been asking that question since the first caveman told his wife, “Yes, I realize we’re surrounded by man-eating hyenas, but I really need to take a walk and be alone.”

Opposites often attract because each one offers what the other is missing: Introverts are amazed at extroverts’ openness and ability to demand a waitress replace a half-cooked entrée. Extroverts appreciate introverts’ thoughtfulness and are astonished they can listen to a grief-stricken relative deliver a lengthy eulogy without continually interrupting.

Introvert/extrovert relationships often work because each partner compliments the other. The extrovert can liven up the introvert and confirm they’re still breathing, while the introvert can calm the extrovert down and convince them not to sucker punch the policeman who pulled them over for running a stop sign.

Can an introvert/extrovert relationship work for you? To succeed, each side must be open to what the other has to offer and do it with a minimum of passive aggression. In the end, it comes down to chemistry or finding enough chemicals to keep you happy and sedated.