“Raise your hand if you’re an introvert.”
During two different years, I made this request to more than 200 MBA students at Wharton. In 2011, only a few students raised their hands. In 2013, more than a third of the hands shot up.
Had we accepted a more introverted cohort of students? No. When they filled out confidential surveys, the two classes were identical: on a 1-5 scale, where 1 is extremely introverted and 5 is extremely extraverted, the average was 3.34 in 2011 and 3.39 in 2013.
We had the same number of introverts; students were just more willing to admit it publicly now. When I asked what made them comfortable stepping out of the shadows, the most common answer was Susan Cain’s life-altering book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Before reading it, they saw introversion as a liability. As actress Emma Watson (aka Hermione Granger) laments, “If you’re anything other than an extravert you’re made to think there’s something wrong with you.” [read]