Tag Archives: Book Review

Quiet The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Quiet is a word I’ve always identified with. I wasn’t much of a talker growing up and loved my retreats into solitude where I could find creative ways to entertain myself. I always wondered why I was so quiet and often longed to be more outgoing; so when I ran across Susan Cain’s Ted Talk, you can bet it immediately struck a cord with me. I loved it. I was so intrigued that I just had to find out more.

I picked up Quiet - The power of Introverts... expecting to come out of the listening experience with a profound understanding of what it was that made me tick and how to use a deeper understanding of this personality trait to my advantage in my personal and professional life but ehh… I don’t think I can say I completely got what I was looking for. Though the book is filled with interesting gems, it didn’t quite deliver when it came to helping me craft my plan for total world domination (not that it promised to deliver that). There are a few tips for making the most out of your introversion but the book is so story-heavy that the tips almost get lost.

What I did enjoy was the affirmative tone (Think SNL’s old “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” skit.) Off the bat, Quiet hits the nail on the head with statements like: “Fast talkers are ranked as more competent and likable than slow ones even though there is zero correlation between the gift of gab and good ideas.” It goes on to state: “We perceive talkers as smarter than quiet types. Even though grade point averages and SAT and intelligence test scores reveal this perception to be inaccurate.” Amen sister.

The book does a great job of encouraging its readers to embrace their introverted temperaments and discourages us from doing this silly thing we do of trying to pass for extrovert. I’m so guilty of this and I'm just now learning to embrace my introversion. As part of the supporting argument, the book lists several accomplished and famous introverts like Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs. Here is where if you’re an introvert, you start to feel pretty awesome knowing you’re in such great company. So I get it, we’re supposed to stay true to our own nature because this is who we are but conversely, Susan knows that this is a world run by extroverts who are drawn to other extroverts. She even states so in the book. I don’t think I can realistically expect to get ahead if I refuse to display at least a few extrovert qualities. Though some introverts still manage to find success staying completely true to who they are, I feel like the cards are stacked against me that respect.

It seems as if Susan thinks that we should simply be who we are and let the rest of the world adapt to us. While I think this is a noble idea, I feel like I’ll personally experience time travel before I see this happen. Time and time again, I’ve witnessed the introvert get passed up for the fast-talking, boisterous extrovert. I strongly believe we still have to play the game and the game for introverts, includes sometimes stretching the limitations of your comfort. Sometimes it’s in your best interest to mingle and network and participate in meetings and discussions even though you’d rather be spaced out somewhere alone in your own personal Shangri-La. The universe thinks extroverts are awesome and it’s going to take more than this book and a refusal to acclimate to convince it that we introverts are just as awesome (or even awesomererer).

The references to the Introvert/Extrovert study by Jerome Kagan were the best things to happen to Quiet. They provided me with some of the deep insight that I was looking for when it came to understanding why I was quiet. As a child I always thought something was wrong with me. Perhaps, if I had some of this information back then, it might have spared me a lot of worry. I wanted so much more of this type of information but instead I got stories and more stories. Don’t get me wrong, some of the anecdotes were insightful and encouraging but it felt like there were far too many of them and they seemed to drag on forever. Admittedly, I nearly fell asleep on several occasions (I drive to work remember? DANGER DANGER). Even the reader of the audio book spoke in a quiet, lifeless tone. I found myself quickly turning off the audio and switching to the radio on full blast in order to wake myself up again. Jeez Louise, had this book been about half its size, I may have felt a little differently about it. In the end, yes, it moved me a little but no major strides were taken here. It was just okay.

Thanks for reading. Let’s continue to make those quiet power moves ladies.

Nice Girls don't book

This book has been on my to-read list for quite some time. Thanks to the audio version, I finally got around to "reading" it. I've always been the information hungry type and consequently like to gather intel on many of the items I purchase before I commit. I hate the feeling of buyer’s remorse. Personally, it ranks right up there with wasting a first-rate outfit on a second-rate event. So when I started looking at the reviews for this particular book, I grew a little uneasy. They were so mixed I didn't know quite what to expect. Reviews ran the gamut of "very insightful" to "filled with the obvious and outdated".

Despite some of the negative reviews, I decided to give it a shot and what I found was a book that was perfect for someone like me; a nice girl who for some inexplicable reason not only wants to be a part of this not so nice, dog-eat-dog business world, but also has ambitions of eventually leading the pack.

I wanted explanations as to why women still are where we are in the business world in comparison to men. I wanted to know what it is that the men are doing that we women aren't. I wanted to know how to avoid those career-limiting mistakes and this book took me there. I listened intently and took extensive notes.

Author Lois P. Frankel had me at lesson 1: How you play the game. Business is a game and you can win it, she writes.  This might sound obvious. I mean how many times have we heard someone say something like this? The problem is most people dismiss it. We shake our heads in disgust and act as if it’s the exception to the rule. We say things like "It's a game.”, “It's politics.”, and “It’s not fair." and we go on about our business. As Frankel outlines the 100 plus nice girl mistakes, she starts with a hell of an eye opener: Mistake 1: If you don't play (the game) you can't win. Eureka! If you want to succeed you can't pretend this thing isn't a game. She advises that you should instead be aware of the rules and develop strategies to make them work to your advantage.

Another notable mistake; Mistake 7: Work hard. This one outlines some of the same ideas I covered in my "Why aren't I getting promoted?” post. Here Frankel dismisses as a myth the notion of advancing by working twice as hard. In her words; “No one ever got promoted purely because of hard work. Likability, strategic thinking, networking and being a team player are a few of the other factors that go into crafting a successful career.” So what are the men up to while we’re busy working twice as hard as them? They’re socializing and networking. Men don't just work hard they build relationships that will later work for them. They work smart rather than hard.

What else did I learn? Well entirely too much to outline here. However, I can say that I know I have several mistakes to work on including #12 Waiting to be given what I want, #54 A reluctance to negotiate and #82 Asking permission. All of these topics and more are helpfully covered in Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office.

So did it move me? Obviously, yes. Would I recommend it to others? Ya damn skippy. Thanks for reading. Now get this book and let’s make power moves ladies.

Lean in book image 2

So I've finished reading Lean In and boy was it a page-turner (figuratively speaking of course, because I “read” the audio version). First of all, where has this book been all my life? Secondly, shame on me for not picking it up as soon as it was released last March. I can’t even begin to imagine how helpful this book would have been to me about 13 years ago when I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. But I digress, so let's get into the present and by present I don't just mean present day I mean the gift that I have given myself by finally making the decision to purchase this book.

So one day while surfing the Internet, I stumbled upon a Ted Talk given by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg. Now if you're not familiar with Ted Talks, please get familiar because man, are you missing out. Essentially, Ted Talks are a series of short conferences that are live streamed and then archived on Ted.com. The talks range in subject matter and are given by industry leaders, activists, celebrities and a slew of other influential types. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Malcolm Gladwell, Tony Robbins and Bono for example, have all given some noteworthy Talks. See Sandberg's Talk below:

But back to the book. Like most self-help books (although Sheryl rejects the idea that Lean In fits this classification) it highlights several things that you very likely would have already known prior to happening upon it in Lean In. The advantage is that the book frames these concepts with relatable scenarios and fact based data. Yes, of course you know that women historically have always gotten paid less than men, but did you know that in 40 years, through all of our fighting and protesting, that we’ve only been able to raise compensation by 18 cents for every dollar. Yes, you know that women often choose family before career but have you thought about how many women do this before they even have a partner in mind for starting that family with? Lean In covers this and many other topics smartly, advising women not to torment themselves with the notion of choosing work over an imaginary family.

Sheryl does a great job of incorporating her own personal stories in along with the stories of other women, juxtaposing the thought provoking anecdotes alongside the cold hard facts. Rarely do we get to delve into the mind of women at the top, especially one as prominent and successful as Sandberg. For this reason, I believe it's beyond advantageous for young, burgeoning, professional women and dream chasers like my self to hear what the race really involves from the perspective of a woman who has already made it and still holds a place on top.

This book is one that I definitely plan to keep in my arsenal and revisit whenever I feel like I need a refresher on the proper moves to make when navigating through this corporate jungle. If you're still unsure about whether or not this one is worth picking up, at minimum, please take a look at Sheryl's Ted Talk above and view some of my favorite excerpts from the book below.  Let's make power moves ladies. Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

J. Daniel

Women have to prove themselves to a far greater extent than men do. A 2011 McKinsey report noted that men are promoted based on potential, while women are promoted based on past accomplishments.

Feeling confident – or pretending that you feel confident – is necessary to reach for opportunities. It’s a cliché, but opportunities are rarely offered; they’re seized.

We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands and by pulling back when we should be leaning in. We internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives; the messages that say it’s wrong to be out spoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve.

Please ask yourself : “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?” and then go do it.

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