Please Vote for QUIET in the Goodreads Choice Awards!

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GoodreadsChoiceAward2012 Please Vote for QUIET in the Goodreads Choice Awards!

Cast your vote for QUIET.

QUIET has received a number of honors in its first year, but this one means the world to me — it’s a semifinalist in the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Nonfiction!

This award is unique because readers (you!) choose the winners. Goodreads nominates 15 books from every genre based on the number of ratings and average rating they receive on the site. Because of your reviews, QUIET rose to the top of 170 million books.

The semifinal round is open now through Saturday, November 17. If you believe in the book, please help it advance to the final round by casting your vote here.

And — THANK YOU for all of your support.

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The Courage of Naomi Wolf

naomi The Courage of Naomi Wolf

Naomi Wolf

Lately I’ve been fascinated by the question of moral courage: what it is, who possesses it. So often we see courage right under our noses, and fail to recognize it.

I think that’s the case with Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth and, more recently, Vagina. Wolf has made a career of speaking her truth. Time and again she ventures into controversial territory, not only taking on sacred cows but also using a language not generally embraced by public intellectuals – in her latest book she speaks of goddesses and, well, vaginas. She knows she’ll be judged, even mocked. But she tells her truth anyway. How many of us can say that?

At this point, I should tell you that I’ve known Naomi Wolf for much of my adult life. That makes me biased, but it also means that I know something about her that’s rarely discussed in the media – the lengths she goes to, behind the scenes and mostly unheralded, to help other women. I have watched her mentor countless young writers – edit their proposals, blurb their books, open her Rolodex  She does these things matter-of-factly, expecting little in return besides the satisfaction of propelling more women into public discourse.

vagina The Courage of Naomi Wolf

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So I have watched with some dismay as critics have characterized Wolf’s latest book – a work clearly animated by her characteristic generosity of spirit and intellectual adventurousness – as a frivolous ode to her own sexuality.

Wolf begins the book by sharing her own story.  At midlife, she found herself suffering from a degenerative disorder of the spine – a form of spina bifida that she’d probably had from birth without knowing it – that profoundly diminished her enjoyment of sex. When finally she had surgery, her back healed and her pleasure returned. Equally important, after a conversation with her doctor, she had an epiphany — that women’s pleasure is partly a function of their neural wiring.

To which some critics have responded – and I quote: “Duh.”

But it’s not duh.

Here’s how Wolf puts it – and this is the paragraph that informs the rest of the book:

“That’s what explained [women’s sexuality]? Neural wiring? Not culture, not upbringing, not patriarchy, not feminism, not Freud? Even in women’s magazines, variation in women’s sexual response was often described as if it were predicated mostly upon emotions, or access to the ‘right’ fantasies or role playing, or upon one’s upbringing, or upon one’s ‘guilt,’ or ‘liberation,’ or upon a lover’s skill. I had never read that the way you best reached orgasm, as a woman, was largely due to basic neural wiring. This was a much less mysterious and value-laden message about female sexuality: it presented the obvious suggestion that anyone could learn about her own, or his or her partner’s, particular neural variant as such, and simply master the patterns of the special way it worked.”

These are extremely intriguing and important points. Wolf goes on to argue that women are neurally wired to “face the fact, which is simply more obscured to men (though actually ultimately no less true for them)” that “connection, love, intimacy, and Eros is indeed bigger and stronger than anything else in the world.” She suggests ways that women might realize the power of their sexuality to promote love and bonding. And she takes on postfeminism, arguing that today’s women subscribe to a “male-model ideal of not-caring, take-it-or-leave-it sexuality [that is] setting up yet another impossible ideal into which women are supposed to shoehorn their actual needs, at some violence to themselves.”

You may not agree with every plank of this. But as a writer, Wolf has always been both poet and polemicist.  And in Vagina, she is doing what she has done consistently throughout her career: written from a high wire. She knowingly makes bold and controversial statements, and in the case of this book hopes they’ll resonate with the many women – nearly one in three, according to Wolf – who suffer from low desire or anorgasmia. She has started a conversation about women’s pleasure – a subject that is still – still, after all this time – rife with misinformation.

It’s a discussion we desperately need to have, and I admire Wolf for igniting it.

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“You Can Approach Life With Both Fierceness and Grace”: An Interview with Brene Brown

brene1 You Can Approach Life With Both Fierceness and Grace: An Interview with Brene Brown

Brene Brown

I had the good fortune to meet Brene Brown last March when we both spoke at TED, and she instantly became one of my favorite people. She is warm and wise and very, very funny. (Check out her two TED talks and see what I mean.) For now, I can’t wait to read her new book, Daring Greatly (which debuted at #2 on the New York Times Bestseller list!). In the meantime, here’s an interview with Brene:

1. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How do other people see you?

Most people find it hard to believe, but I’m an introvert. I’m comfortable speaking to 2000 people about my work, but drop me into a cocktail party with 50 people and I’m lost. My restorative time is alone time or time with my family and a couple of close friends. I don’t function well without serious doses of solitude.

2. What did you want to be when you grew up, and why?

I went through stages. There was a period when I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader and that was followed by a short period when I dreamed of driving an 18-wheeler. I was really good on the CB radio – we all had our own handles and my dad taught us how to ask truckers where the “smokies” were hiding. A Texas childhood, no doubt. At some point in middle school I focused on being a cruise director (a la Love Boat). Everything changed when I did a project on Eleanor Roosevelt. It changed me. I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I was inspired to make a difference.

3. Tell us about someone you admire.

Right now I’m drawing the most inspiration from my children. Watching my 13-year-old daughter Ellen navigate middle school is a constant reminder that you can approach life with both fierceness and grace. Charlie, my 1st grader, is pure love and curiosity. I want to be as unapologetically playful and open as he is.

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4. What do you do when you feel afraid?

I pray. Faith is the organizing principle in my life. I also try to stay very mindful of my values. Courage is a value that is very important to me. It ranks right up there with honesty and respect.

5. Quirky or mainstream — which adjective suits you better, and why?

I think I’m both. In many ways I’m very quirky and “out there” but I also love tradition. I’ll push the envelope and do things that may not be considered “mainstream” but I’m also big on things like manners and following the rules (even when I’m working to change the rules).

6. What is your absolute favorite way of spending time (other than with your family)?

Being outside near water, taking and editing photographs, working on my Project Life albums, listening to music, reading, watching smart television, and analyzing data.

7. Gandhi said: “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” If you could shake the world gently, what would you do? (Please don’t feel the need to say something like “End world hunger” or “Create lasting peace.” We’re more interested in your own signature contribution to the world.)

Thirteen years ago, during a long walk around our neighborhood, I told my husband that my professional life goal was to start a national conversation about shame and vulnerability. I don’t want or need people to sign on to my beliefs – I just want a conversation about the importance of showing up and letting ourselves be seen. I think a collective sense of worthiness could shake the world.


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Happier at Home — an Interview with Gretchen Rubin

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gretchen Happier at Home    an Interview with Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin

1. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How do other people see you?

Gretchen: I can never decide if I’m an introvert or an extrovert. I need a lot of solitude, but I also need a fair amount of social interaction. I like parties, which I find both energizing and draining, and I also like spending the day by myself. I’ve noticed that I work best in an environment that strikes a balance: I often work in the study room of a library near my apartment, where I write undisturbed and in silence (you get in big trouble if your phone rings or you forget to mute the start-up tones on your laptop), but also surrounded by the quiet, industrious company of other people.

2. What did you want to be when you grew up, and why?

Gretchen:I never thought about this question growing up! A big mistake. So what did I end up doing after college? Law school.

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3. Tell us about someone you admire.

Gretchen: I admire Benjamin Franklin. He is a patron saint of anyone doing a happiness project, because he believed so firmly in the idea of self-examination and self-improvement. He was funny, inventive, a great writer, a Founding Father, and in his free time, invented bifocals and founded a public library. What a model! Also Winston Churchill, St. Therese of Lisieux, Samuel Johnson, Julia Child…right now I’m reading the letters of Flannery O’Connor, and I admire her tremendously.

4. When you feel afraid, how do you embolden yourself?

Gretchen: Years ago, my husband worked at a law firm for a brief period. I remember that one day he came home and remarked, “Well, I don’t know if I’d make partner at that law firm, but I know now that I wouldn’t be the dumbest partner in that law firm.” I laughed for ten minutes, and I often repeat this line to remind myself, to remember: I know as much as most people, I can do a decent job at most things I attempt.

Also, as I write about in Happier at Home, for years, I was a very fearful driver, and I basically quit driving (which is possible in New York City—part of why I love New York City!). I decided I wanted to conquer this fear, and now I am driving—but I still hate to drive. I wanted to get over this dread of it, and I told a friend, “I wish I could love to drive, so many people do.” And she said, “Well, you may never like to drive, but that’s not the same as being afraid to drive.” This was enormously comforting to me. Sometimes, I’m scared to do something, but I can still do it, and it’s okay if I feel anxious, as long as I don’t let those feelings limit my freedom.

Your New York Times piece about being scared to speak at TED reminded me of this, Susan. You were extremely anxious, but you forged ahead anyway. We can’t choose what we like to do, but we can choose what we do.

5. Quirky or mainstream — which adjective suits you better, and why?

Gretchen: What an interesting question. I think…quirky. But probably everyone considers themselves quirky, so perhaps it’s mainstream to think so.

6. What is your absolute favorite way of spending time (other than with your family)?

Gretchen: Reading in bed.

7. Gandhi said: “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” If you could shake the world gently, what would you do? (Please don’t feel the need to say something like “End world hunger” or “Create lasting peace.” We’re more interested in your own signature contribution to the world.)

Gretchen: I wish I could prod everyone who believes in organ donation to sign the organ-donor registry. Live your values! It takes one minute!

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23 Signs You’re Emotionally Intelligent & Destined for Success



Soft skills -- what are they, anyway? And which ones are essential to a successful career? Dan Schawbel has the answer in his new book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success.

Read the rest of this article.


How My Mother Helped Launch My Writing Career


whitney How My Mother Helped Launch My Writing Career“How did your mother teach you to dream, and how do you hope to teach your children to dream?”

For Mother’s Day, Whitney Johnson, a venture capitalist and popular Harvard Business Review blogger (pictured at left), challenged me to answer these questions. With her new book, Dare, Dream, Do, she’s out to inspire women of all ages to dream big and make those dreams a reality-especially mothers.

So I started thinking about my own mom. And I realized: it was what she didn’t say that counted most.

When I was a kid, I spent countless sunny afternoons writing stories. I called the space under the family card table my workshop, and curled up there producing “magazines” – looseleaf paper stapled together – subscriptions to which I sold to indulgent family members. My friend Michelle and I sat side by side at her bedroom table, writing plays and reading them aloud to each other. I went to the library every Friday and came home with teetering stacks of books.

Never once did my mother say: You should be outside more. You should do more regular kid stuff. You should daydream less, socialize more. Instead, she took me to my grandfather’s book-lined apartment and let me wander his library for hours. She understood that I had plenty of friends with whom I liked to play quietly – and that one of my very best friends was my very own self.

Today I know how lucky I was. Every day I hear from readers whose well-intentioned parents asked them to be more like their extroverted siblings or classmates, to spend less time with the riches inside their own head. Many of these parents were loving and well-intentioned. They worried that too quiet a childhood might lead to a future of loneliness.

My mother is a famous worrier, but somehow she never worried about this.

Thank you, Mom.

Here is Whitney Johnson’s new book, Dare, Dream, Do. You can connect with her on Twitter @johnsonwhitney and on Facebook.  


The QUIET Book Tour Continues…


Hi everyone,

Here’s the latest news from the QUIET book tour, which continues at its whirlwind pace!

1. QUIET has been on the New York Times bestseller list ever since it debuted in late January.

2. Chris Anderson, the owner of TED, recently tweeted that my TED talk “smashed” all of TED’s previous records for number of views in first week of posting — currently over 1.3 million views since the talk went live on March 2.

3. British readers! Tomorrow I’m headed to the United Kingdom, and would love to meet you. Please check my Events page for live events and TV/radio appearances.

4. American readers, the tour will continue in the U.S. in April. Please check back soon for upcoming appearances.

5. Here are a bunch of recent TV, radio, and print interviews with me, and mentions of QUIET:

CNN - Introverts Run the World — Quietly

The New York Times - In New Office Designs, Room to Roam and to Think

The Asian Age - Why Introverts are Quiet Winners

CTV News - Interview: Loud Society Fails to Capitalize on Introverts

MSNBC - Video interview on The Dylan Ratigan Show

WNYC - Audio Interview on The Leonard Lopate Show

Vancouver Sun - Hate Networking?  Introvert Business Leaders as Good or Better than Extroverts

Knoxville News Sentinel - Introverts Living in an Extrovert’s World - Audio Interview / Podcast

The Introvert Entrepreneur - Audio Interview / Podcast - How to Set Boundaries with People you Love - Lessons from Dad and Jeremy Lin

The Atlantic - How TED Makes Ideas Smaller

The Journal Times - In What Light There Is: The Power of QUIET

Cosmic Log on - Deep Thinkers Take Center Stage

Cool Hunting - Link About It:  This Week’s Picks

The Guardian - TED 2012: The Final Countdown

Boing Boing - TED 2012: Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts

Wired News - TED and Meta TED: On Scene Musings from the Wonderdome

The Bellingham Herald - Quiet Power: Introverts Can Capitalize on Their Inner Strengths and Feel Good About It - Sshh Branding: The Quiet Revolution - Why the World Needs to Start Embracing Introverts

THANK YOU for your support and interest.

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Quiet: The Book

- Wall Street Journal

Bill Gates names "The Power of Introverts" one of his all-time favorite TED Talks.

Best Nonfiction Book of 2012

QUIET has been voted the best nonfiction book of 2012


1. There’s a word for “people who are in their heads too much”: thinkers.

2. Our culture rightly admires risk-takers, but we need our “heed-takers” more than ever.

3. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.

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