Susan Cain

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We've known about the transcendent power of solitude for centuries; it's only recently that we've forgotten it.

Susan Cain (born 1968) is an American writer and lecturer, and author of the 2012 non-fiction book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, which argues that modern Western culture misunderstands and undervalues the traits and capabilities of introverted people.

Quotes[edit]

Our lives are shaped as profoundly by personality as by gender or race. And the single most important aspect of personality ... is where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum.
For seven blissful years I had spent my time reading, writing and researching a book about introversion. But the publication date had arrived, the idyll was over and my metamorphosis was complete. I was now that impossibly oxymoronic creature: the Public Introvert.
  • Our culture rightly admires risk-takers, but we need our “heed-takers” more than ever.
    • Manifesto, ThePowerOfIntroverts.com, January 2012 (est).
  • Everyone shines, given the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk.
    • Manifesto, ThePowerOfIntroverts.com, January 2012 (est).
  • Love is essential, gregariousness is optional.
    • Manifesto, ThePowerOfIntroverts.com, January 2012 (est).
  • Solitude is out of fashion. Our companies, our schools and our culture are in thrall to an idea I call the New Groupthink, which holds that creativity and achievement come from an oddly gregarious place.
    • "The Rise of the New Groupthink," Opinion section of The New York Times, online January 13, 2012; in print January 15, 2012.
  • It’s never a good idea to organize society in a way that depletes the energy of half the population.
    • Cook, Gareth (interviewer), "The Power of Introverts: A Manifesto for Quiet Brilliance," Scientific American, January 24, 2012.
  • Shyness is the fear of negative judgment, while introversion is simply the preference for less stimulation. Shyness is inherently uncomfortable; introversion is not. The traits do overlap, though psychologists debate to what degree.
    • Cook, Gareth (interviewer), "The Power of Introverts: A Manifesto for Quiet Brilliance," Scientific American, January 24, 2012.
  • We (introverts) are not anti-social; we’re differently social.
    • Cook, Gareth (interviewer), "The Power of Introverts: A Manifesto for Quiet Brilliance," Scientific American, January 24, 2012.
  • (In writing Quiet) I was fueled by the same mix of passion and indignation that I imagine inspired Betty Friedan to publish The Feminine Mystique in 1963. Introverts are to extroverts what women were to men at that time--second-class citizens with gigantic amounts of untapped talent. Our schools, workplaces, and religious institutions are designed for extroverts, and many introverts believe that there is something wrong with them and that they should try to "pass" as extroverts. The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.
    • Glor, Jeff (interviewer), "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," by Susan Cain," CBS News, January 26, 2012.
  • We have a two-tier class system when it comes to personality style. To devalue introversion is a waste of talent, energy and happiness.
    • Bielski, Zosia (interviewer), "Giving introverts permission to be themselves," The Globe and Mail, January 26, 2012.
  • Most introverts aren’t aware of how they are constantly spending their time in ways that they would prefer not to be. They’ve been doing it all their lives, so it just becomes second nature. I’m trying to give people entitlement inside their own minds to be who they are.
    • Bielski, Zosia (interviewer), "Giving introverts permission to be themselves," The Globe and Mail, January 26, 2012.
  • We moved from what cultural historians call a culture of character to a culture of personality. During the culture of character, what was important was the good deeds that you performed when nobody was looking. ... But at the turn of the (20th) century, when we moved into this culture of personality, suddenly what was admired was to be magnetic and charismatic.
    • Cornish, Audie (interviewer), "Quiet, Please: Unleashing 'The Power Of Introverts'," NPR, January 30, 2012.
  • I look back on my years as a Wall Street lawyer as time spent in a foreign country.
    • "The quiet strength of the introvert," The Chicago Tribune, February 20, 2012.
  • We can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point. Bill Gates is never going to be Bill Clinton, no matter how he polishes his social skills, and Bill Clinton can never be Bill Gates, no matter how much time he spends alone with a computer.
    • "The quiet strength of the introvert," The Chicago Tribune, February 20, 2012.
  • Groups follow the most charismatic person, even though there is no correlation between being a good speaker and having great ideas.
    • "An introverted call to action: Susan Cain at TED2012," TED, February 28, 2012.
  • The key to maximizing talents is to put yourself into the zone of stimulation that’s right for you.
    • "An introverted call to action: Susan Cain at TED2012," TED, February 28, 2012.
  • I prefer listening to talking, reading to socializing … I like to think before I speak (softly).
    • "Susan Cain: Quiet revolutionary" speaker profile at TED.com, February 2012 (est.)
  • Solitude matters, and for some people it is the air that they breathe.
    • "Susan Cain: Quiet revolutionary" speaker profile at TED.com, February 2012 (est.)
  • Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Gandhi — all these peopled described themselves as quiet and soft-spoken and even shy. And they all took the spotlight, even though every bone in their bodies was telling them not to.
    • "Susan Cain: Quiet revolutionary" speaker profile at TED.com, February 2012 (est.)
  • The world needs you and it needs the things you carry. So I wish you the best of all possible journeys and the courage to speak softly.
    • "Susan Cain: Quiet revolutionary" speaker profile at TED.com, February 2012 (est.)
  • Our lives are shaped as profoundly by personality as by gender or race. And the single most important aspect of personality ... is where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum.
    • "Why the world needs introverts," The Guardian, March 13, 2012.
  • Our culture is biased against quiet and reserved people, but introverts are responsible for some of humanity's greatest achievements.
    • "Introverts run the world -- quietly," CNN.com, March 18, 2012.
  • We've known about the transcendent power of solitude for centuries; it's only recently that we've forgotten it.
    • "Introverts run the world -- quietly," CNN.com, March 18, 2012.
  • Introversion — along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness — is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.
    • "Revenge of the introverts: It's often assumed extroverts do best in life, but a new book reveals quite the opposite... ," The Daily Mail, March 25, 2012.
  • Where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum... influences our choice of friends and partners, and how we make conversation, resolve differences and show love. It affects the careers we choose and whether or not we succeed at them.
    • "Revenge of the introverts: It's often assumed extroverts do best in life, but a new book reveals quite the opposite... ," The Daily Mail, March 25, 2012.
  • One honest relationship can be more productive than fistfuls of business cards.
    • "Revenge of the introverts: It's often assumed extroverts do best in life, but a new book reveals quite the opposite... ," The Daily Mail, March 25, 2012.
  • For seven blissful years I had spent my time reading, writing and researching a book about introversion. But the publication date had arrived, the idyll was over and my metamorphosis was complete. I was now that impossibly oxymoronic creature: the Public Introvert.
    • Essay: "An Introvert Steps Out," "Sunday Book Review" section of The New York Times, online April 27, 2012 and in print April 29, 2012.
  • Persistence isn’t very glamorous. If genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration, then as a culture we tend to lionize the 1 percent. We love its flash and dazzle. But great power lies in the other 99 percent.
    • Hughey, Aaron W. (book reviewer), "Book review: ‘Quiet’ suggests introverts are undervalued by society," The Daily News (Kentucky; BGDailyNews.com), July 15, 2012.
  • This is the next great diversity issue of our time.
    • Walsh, Colleen (staff writer), "Women in the law" article re "Celebration 60" event, Harvard Gazette, September 30, 2013. (Quotation referring to introversion and extroversion)
  • There's no correlation between expressing an idea assertively or charismatically, and having a good idea.
    • Guerrero, Aaron (interviewer), "Introvert Susan Cain Explains Why Shy People Thrive at Work," U.S. News and World Report, October 3, 2013
  • We need systems that reward the best ideas, not the best presenters.
    • Guerrero, Aaron (interviewer), "Introvert Susan Cain Explains Why Shy People Thrive at Work," U.S. News and World Report, October 3, 2013
  • I'm seeing businesses embrace the Quiet Revolution as the next great diversity issue of our time.
    • Guerrero, Aaron (interviewer), "Introvert Susan Cain Explains Why Shy People Thrive at Work," U.S. News and World Report, October 3, 2013
  • Embracing their quiet nature does not cause introverts to flee to a shack in the woods. It empowers them to engage with the world – but on their own terms.
    • Cain's second TED Talk, "Announcing the Quiet Revolution," March 2014.

External links[edit]

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