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

Jeff Glor speaks with Susan Cain about "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking."

Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?

Susan Cain: I was fuelled 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.

JG: What surprised you the most?

SC: I'm continually amazed by how many people who appear to be extroverts are actually introverts. Whenever I mention to airport seatmates and dinner party guests the subject of my book, the most unlikely people confide that they are secret introverts.

Of course, given the statistics, I shouldn't be surprised. The latest study shows that 50% of Americans are introverts. But in this extroverted culture of ours, most people act much more outgoing than they really are.

JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?

SC: I've wanted to be a writer since I was four years old! But still, that's an easy question: I would be a research psychologist. I'm insatiably curious about human nature. I feel very lucky that as a writer I get to learn so much about it just to do my job right. For "Quiet," I interviewed dozens of psychology researchers and read hundreds of scholarly papers and books. I also talked to scores of "regular people" about the way their personalities shape their lives.

JG: What else are you reading right now?

SC: Like everyone else, I'm reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs. I have a special interest in that book, because in "Quiet" I wrote a lot about Jobs' co-founder of Apple Computer, the shy and warm-hearted Steve Wozniak. I'm also re-reading Rebecca Goldstein's brilliant 1983 novel, "The Mind-Body Problem," about life and love in the Princeton University philosophy department. And I can't wait to get to Daniel Kahneman's new book, "Thinking, Fast and Slow," about the mysteries of human reasoning. That's my favorite genre - "idea books" about human nature.

JG: What's next for you?

SC: I have another book up my sleeve. But I also expect to be advancing the ideas in "Quiet" -- though public speaking, my website, and so on -- for the rest of my life. For me this is not just a book; it's a mission. I'm especially interested in working with parents and teachers of introverted kids, and in helping to re-shape workplace culture and design. I'd like to see it less focused on what I call "The New Groupthink" - the idea that creativity and productivity emerge from a necessarily gregarious place - and more conducive to deep thought and solo reflection.


Jeff Glor talks to author Susan Cain about what, exactly, is an introvert. Cain also discusses how more and more people are craving quiet and how we could be at the start of a "Quiet Revolution."
Jeff Glor talks to Susan Cain about how introverts can use their strengths to succeed in an extrovert world. Cain is the author of "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking."

For more on "Quiet" visit the Random House website.

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