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.

Dating World, Here I Come!

Dating_world_here_I_come_01You’ve been pretty productive lately. You finally found a gym that doesn’t prosecute members for failing to wipe down the machines. Your team of 20 crack lawyers figured out the best data plan for you. And after a lifetime of wondering if you suffer from Square Peg in Round Hole syndrome, you discovered you’re simply an introvert.

Now it’s time to find someone with whom to share your wonderful, solitary life.

Chances are your dating status falls under one of the following categories:

  • You’ve never been in a long-term relationship — excluding your life-long affair with “The X-Files.”
  • You’ve had one date in your life from which you’re still recuperating.
  • You’ve never been on a date, although you’ve convinced your parents you have a husband and five kids.

Relationships can be overwhelming under normal circumstances. They’re even more daunting when the most intimate relationship you’ve had is with the sultry voice in your head who always whispers, “The hell with karaoke, let’s go home and read a book.”

You probably won’t meet Mr./Ms. Right on your first encounter, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your eggplant parmesan while your blind date talks non-stop about her fallen arches. Then it’s on to the next candidate.

Before posting on Tinder a photo of your trembling face feigning confidence, take a deep breath, relax and read the following tips:

  • Don’t panic. You are embarking on a new phase of your life that will bring happiness and fulfillment with, hopefully, not too many noticeable perspiration stains. It’s not unusual to be nervous when you start dating. It may take some time, but eventually nervousness will be the last thing you’ll be thinking about as you head out to meet your 250th “sure thing.”
  • Think about the kind of person you’d like to meet. Aside from someone who “gets you” and won’t mind your month-long silent periods, what else appeals to you? Given that you may be anxious to meet anyone at the moment, it’s important to have some minimum requirements. Should he be tall and brooding? If so, must he be able to dunk a basketball? Should she have a pleasant resting bitch face? If so, is a complete set of teeth mandatory?
  • Don’t worry about rejection. Most people you’ll meet are dealing with the same fears and insecurities. However, unlike most extroverts who, after a bad date, must go home to a lonely, empty apartment, you get to go home to a GREAT, empty apartment.
  • Don’t think, “No one will want to meet a weirdo like me.” Dating will introduce you to some of the most unusual creatures ever to walk on two legs. You’ll leave many encounters thinking, “At least I know the difference between a fork and knife.”
  • Be yourself. You are a wonderful person with much to offer, including the ability to quietly listen to your date talk endlessly without changing your facial expression or losing consciousness (most of the time). Aside from perhaps a few  personal hygiene issues and some outstanding felony warrants, you are perfect the way you are.
  • Don’t wait for people to come to you. Introverts tend to let others to make the first move. This greatly decreases your dating pool. You don’t have to become overly or even normally social, but at the very least it doesn’t hurt to hit on your mail carrier or that nice woman next door with all the cats.
  • Be up-front about your introversion. Ideally, you’d like to meet another introvert or an extrovert who enjoys and appreciates introverts – unless, of course, you’re seeking someone who is turned on by passive aggressive phone sex. Why date a person who, after meeting you, calls 911 to report an unresponsive body when you can meet someone who is turned on by an unresponsive body?
  • It will get easier. You’re using dating muscles that have rarely or never been exercised. It takes most seasoned daters at least 10 times to comfortably say, “You don’t look anything like the photo in your personal ad.” It may take you a little longer. but in eventually you’ll be asking your latest encounter, “Aren’t we related?” without batting eye.

Finding That Special One With A Minimum Of Eye Contact

nervous_couple_01When it comes to love and relationships, introverts are different from extroverts and, for that matter, anyone else who doesn’t fanaticize about reading passionate poetry to their lover in a deserted Starbucks, located in a desolate seaport village being pounded by a violent nor’easter.

Introverts think and communicate differently, especially when expressing emotions and desires towards people about whom they feel deeply. Unlike extroverts, few introverts would propose marriage at a Ninety-Nine Restaurant & Pub during Happy Hour – and certainly not on Wings Night.

Finding companionship is challenging for introverts because they are more inclined to be approached rather than seek out their true love. Finding that one special person is even more challenging if your social circle consists of you, your cat and a stuffed animal who is the only one that really “gets you.”

But fear not! Your special someone is out there somewhere, probably like you, avoiding human contact and wondering why you two haven’t hooked up. All you need are a few dating strategy adjustments. In no time, you’ll be with your one and only, hearts pounding, eye contact avoiding and verbal skills atrophied due to years of neglect.

All Introvert Hangovers Are Not Equal

introvert_hangover_04Introvert hangovers come in many forms. Generally, the cure is always the same: Get as far away from people as possible, which is not an easy task if you’re an usher at Madison Square Garden.

Introvert hangovers, however, can be as different as the boisterous extroverts who provoke them. The following describes some common hangovers and sure-fire treatments.

Condition Symptom Remedy
Flapping Tongue Fatigue Dizziness after being asked for the 20th time in a job interview, “Why do you want to work here?” Forge a doctor’s note stating “<your name> needs to rest his/her jaw for the next 25 years.”
Congested Layover Exhaustion Extreme weariness experienced when sitting between two burly bodies, usually while waiting for a connecting flight to Des Moines. Head for the food court and create a quiet and comforting “safe” space away from people. For example, in a quickly-fashioned Cinnabon igloo.
Delusions of Networking A whimsical belief your life will change for the better if you can just gather the courage and introduce yourself to the regional sales manager. Hand your business card to the nearest waiter serving Shrimp Tostada Bites, declare victory and sprint to the warmth and safety of your hotel room.
No Luckus Interruptus Vanquished feeling at condo board meetings when realizing you’ll never get a word in edgewise Get everyone’s attention by pulling an Exorcist: Spin your head 360 degrees, vomit pea soup and groan, “I agree, we need to replace the lounge chairs around the pool.”
Inner Monologue Depletion Being so tired of people, you can’t even talk to the voices in your head. Concentrate and think, “Folks, can we continue this conversation another time?” More than anyone, the voices will understand.
Blank Stare Discombobulation When your “pretending-to-listen” facial expression morphs into your “Please stop talking so I can leave!” look. Allow a family of squirrels to store their nuts in your cheeks. That way you’ll always appear attentive and inquisitive.


Introvert Hangover – When You’ve Had One Too Many Extroverts

Hold all my calls.

You know that burnt out, exhausted feeling you get after being with lots of people for too long? Introverts call it Introvert Hangover. Everyone else calls it Family Reunion Aftermath.

It’s important to regulate your extrovert intake to avoid emotional exhaustion. Fortunately, unlike some alcoholics, very few introverts believe for one second they can handle large swarms of sorority sisters or sales managers. They’ve known this from the moment they had to be coaxed from the solitary comfort of their mother’s womb.

Unless you’re a monk living on a deserted cul-de-sac who’s taken a vow of silence, there are times when excessive socialization is unavoidable. Introvert Hangover is that exhausted feeling afterward when all you want is to crawl under your bed and spoon with a dust bunny. You’re mentally drained, physically tired and in no mood to make eye contact with your pet turtle.

It’s important for introverts to know the signs of an Introvert Hangover and how to properly deal with it. It can mean the difference between being forced to spend a day alone recuperating from exhaustion or… Come to think of it, spending a day alone doesn’t sound all that bad.