When Introversion and Self-Promotion Collide

poorly-lit-mirror-selfieLast week, while I was in the Washington, DC area for the STC board meeting, I got word that my Summit session was accepted. I’ll be speaking about being an introverted entrepreneur in DC next May. (See, there’s a little bit of self-promotion right from the start.)

This is a bit of a strange topic. Part of being an introvert is your innate tendency to not want to draw attention to yourself, which is largely the opposite of any speaking gig. But it’s extra weird when you’re calling attention to your natural desire to not be in the spotlight.

Over the course of my career, my introversion has manifested itself in a lot of different ways, including my tendency to downplay my accomplishments. If someone compliments me on an achievement, I tend to pull the “oh, it was nothing” card in some sort of embarrassed modesty. Because admitting otherwise is awkward. People might actually take notice.

I’m starting to realize that it might be time to get noticed.

As I left the DC-area hotel at 4:30 AM on a Sunday morning, eager to return home to my family, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror beside the elevator. I quickly took a poorly-lit photo of myself because I wanted to remember what I saw. I looked like someone who had her shit together, even long before sunrise, in my plaid coat and red shoes. I looked like the kind of person I wanted to be.

This was my fifth business trip in eight weeks. I’d spoken to standing-room-only crowds in Denver, and on a giant stage with blinding spotlights in Las Vegas. I’d just finished two days of in-person strategy and budget meetings as an elected board member. I routinely work with colleagues in six different countries as part of the business that I’ve built. These are not insignificant things.

And so it’s finally occurred to me — perhaps a little belatedly — that maybe it’s ok to self-promote a bit. After all, if I don’t put stuff out there, who will? So, with that in mind, here are things that I’d like to put out to the universe as we look ahead to 2017.

  1. I’d love to work abroad for a few years. I always assumed that we’d do it because of my husband’s job, but that hasn’t yet come to pass. And hey, maybe I could be the one who leads us elsewhere. You never know. I think it would be an excellent opportunity for all of us, but particularly for my son.
  2. I’d love to have the opportunity to give talks in New Zealand, Australia or Denmark, partly because these are very excellent countries, and partly because they would dovetail nicely with my genealogy research. I’m particularly interested in Australia and New Zealand to solve the mystery of my great-grandfather who may or may not have spent time in that part of the world.
  3. And finally, I’d love to find some new, really cool people to work with in 2017. Do you know of anyone with complex ideas that could use clarification? Send them my way.

What do you want from 2017, and how can we help each other get there?

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