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Susan Cain Gives Introverts More Power and Influence

New ideas, new markets, new insights—innovation takes many forms. Look around and you'll find it all over the U.S.A.

Susan Cain Gives Introverts More Power and Influence

Susan Cain, Hudson River Valley, New York

Introverts have it tough because workplaces often favor the gregarious. But Susan Cain, author of the best-selling new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, has galvanized a movement against society's blanket favoritism toward loud-talking, brainstorm-favoring extroverts. "There's a deep-seated bias in our culture, but we haven't had the language for it," Cain says. She's giving us the words—and the data. Often, thinking alone is better, she says: "All these brainstorming studies show that individuals, extroverts included, produce better ideas when they're riffing alone than when they're in a group." By elucidating introversion's benefits, Cain, who has shared her insights at Google, Microsoft, and the U.S. Treasury, is inspiring a reexamination of corporate structure and processes, spurring change through the classic public-intellectual approach: by encouraging us to think. The results could be anything from more private work spaces—open offices make people less productive, she says—to a generation of introverts that understands that solo time isn't just okay but also beneficial.

A version of this article appeared in the May 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.