It never occurred to me until I had the chance to reflect back on my childhood that my introversion hindered me growing up. It did. Moving up the career ladder requires adept social and political skills, which, as my career progressed and then changed, I now realize I lacked. I always counted on my intelligence to carry me through.
I once interviewed for a management position and thought for sure I would get the job. I was certainly qualified, but I didn’t get it. I really wanted to know what made them choose the other candidate over myself, so I asked. I was told I looked better on paper, which is what got me the interview in the first place, but I didn’t come across as well in person. Guess who got the job? The extrovert, and she continued to move up the career ladder to a prominent position.
Later in my career, I ventured out into the world of entrepreneurship. My goal was to make the best bottled iced tea on the market. My product went on to win first place in a national iced tea championship. Confident in my award winning product, I applied to Shark Tank, sending an email application. After several rounds of email and telephone interviews, I was selected to move forward to the casting phase. I had precisely one week to send a five‐minute, unedited casting video of myself answering the required twelve questions. I had little time to prepare. A friend of mine videotaped me so I would feel more comfortable in front of the camera. I memorized my presentation but made up cue cards, which my daughter held up for me, just in case.
The video was nice and presentable but not “QVC‐ish” enough as I later learned. I was visibly nervous. I asked the casting manager why my video was not selected. He said they loved my product, but I needed to be more outgoing, more bubbly. I am not bubbly. I am quiet and reserved.
Don’t get me wrong. I am quite personable, charming, and have many great qualities, it’s just that outgoing and bubbly is not one of them. I do pride myself on making it that far though. Last year, 40,000 people applied to Shark Tank, and only 180 made it to the show. But my introversion held me back just as in that job interview years earlier. Shark Tank wants people who can showcase their personalities in a television format so that it’s entertaining. Not my forte, and I know it.
I know I can’t change my introverted tendencies. And I agree that a world of only introverts might be a little boring. Just as a world of only extroverts would be totally exhausting! We complement one another, and the balance is good. I can learn some of the skills I lack to perform in the world of extroverts. We both add value to the world in our own ways.