Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Revenge of the Introvert"

I just read an interesting article in Psychology Today, entitled "Revenge of the Introvert." As often happens in the cycle of reading and thinking, this article did not so much inform me of anything I didn't already know or suspect, as it did give structure and terminology to an already developing idea. In short, it clarified and validated parts of my hypothesis on creators and performers.

As you may already know, personality types are universally divided into extraverts and introverts. I'll be brief, because the article explains this very well. Extraverts derive their energy from outside sources, and love crowds, noise, and excitement. Introverts derive their energy from internal sources, preferring one-on-one engagements, alone time, and quiet contemplation. What I call "creators" roughly aligns with the introverted personality types. The article points out that while extraverts (which would roughly align with "performers") seem more prevalent by nature, national studies suggest that it is actually a 50/50 split.

The success culture in the United States is extremely biased toward performance, or "the playing of a prescribed game." This entails some manner of competition between people or teams, and focuses heavily on sales and marketing. All-in-all this requires skills native predominantly to the extravert. This means that a great number of introverts are being forced or are forcing themselves into roles (particularly at work) that are "counter-dispositional." Either that, or they settle for mediocrity at work, keeping their passions as hobbies.

With the advent of so much information technology, I believe that a time is coming when marketing will lose its current value, and success culture will have to embrace the more introverted creators, who originate real value. Indeed, this is already beginning.

The reason is that as more and more people learn how to learn—about products, media content, political campaigns, etc.—from the internet and other sources, there will be a greater and greater skepticism toward someone "selling" something. Therefore, the creation of a truly valuable product will become more important, and will, through passive means, market itself through the recommendations of satisfied customers.

The difficulty, of course, is that creation is unpredictable. It is difficult to say when a breakthrough will occur. By contrast, marketing is a simple numbers game. One truly great product can be sold to literally billions of people, and is a simple matter of rapid exposure. The more exposure, the more people will learn, the more they learn, the more they buy.

In a global economy, where Sydney, Australia and Podunk, USA are in the same marketplace, the challenge is how to utilize the natural abilities of introverts to create without having too many products to effectively market. Given the 50/50 split, the ideal would suggest that there be one creator inventing and one performer marketing.

Certainly, this demands further exploration.

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