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Giving Yourself Permission to Be an Introvert
2 min read

Giving Yourself Permission to Be an Introvert

2 min read  |  Feb 17, 2021

John David Mann, award-winning author of over two dozen books, shares his personal strategies for success as an introvert. From being your true self, to choosing a business partner, to knowing when to say no, these practical tips will make your life and career much happier and more enjoyable.

Episode Highlights:

  • The importance of giving yourself complete permission to be an introvert
  • What does it really mean to be an introvert?
  • Do you compare yourself to others? Stop!
  • Why John doesn’t get on phone calls, and what he does instead
  • When to choose the comfortable option, and when to stretch yourself
  • Finding the right partners and colleagues to balance your introverted tendencies

About John

John David Mann is an award-winning author whose writings have earned the Axiom Business Book Award, the Nautilus Award, and Taiwan’s Golden Book Award for Innovation. His book with Bob Burg, The Go-Giver, was cited on Inc.’s “Most Motivational Books Ever Written” and HubSpot’s “20 Most Highly Rated Sales Books of All Time”; The Go-Giver Leader was listed in Entrepreneur magazine’s “10 Books Every Leader Should Read” and Forbes magazine’s “8 Books Every Young Leader Should Read.” His 2012 Take the Lead (with Betsy Myers) was named Best Leadership Book of 2011 by Tom Peters and the Washington Post. His first full-length novel, Steel Fear, (with former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb) is coming out in August 2021.

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Matt: Hello everyone and welcome back to The Introvert’s Edge. And I’m ecstatic to welcome back John David Mann, who’s been giving you some unbelievable value in the first session. And he tells me has strategies upon strategies around how introverts can be successful, in well – really business, and in life. So with no further ado – John, welcome back to the show.

John: Great to be back.

Matt: So we were just talking about how important this topic is to discuss. Because up until recently, it really wasn’t a comfortable topic to talk about. And it was also – there was that stigma around introversion. And now – finally, we’re talking about these topics and sharing strategies with each other on how to be successful.

John: Absolutely, I think it’s true. I think it’s something we didn’t– Until we really identified it, it was just this murky thing that we didn’t quite know what it was.

Matt: I totally agree. And look I’d love – let’s get our hands dirty, and let’s go into some of those strategies that have really helped you.

John: Just before this, I delineated a list, like I said – of seven strategies. So the number one is – give yourself permission to be introverted. And I think that – I think Susan Cain’s book was a big part of this. I think your book is – does an amazing job of talking about the – you say boldly that introverts make the best salespeople. Which is right there a mindboggling statement. Makes your brain explode. And then you go on to show how and why that’s true. I think that – the very first strategy is to give yourself complete permission to be this person, who is more comfortable in an introvert setting than in an extrovert setting.

And I think strategy number two – is to understand what that means, and what it doesn’t mean. I said this in our first session. I think that it isn’t a black and white thing. Like you’re an introvert or you’re an extrovert. There can be shades of both, depending – as you were saying earlier – on the situation, on the context, on the dynamic. That’s certainly been my experience. And it took me – honestly, decades to kind of figure out why I was exhausted after certain situations.

And so I think a huge strategy is – give yourself permission. Your book does that. Susan’s book does that. The Go-Giver book gave– People come back and tell us, “You have given me permission to believe that I can do business in this way, and that it actually can be effective – as a giving person.” So I think it’s – permission is a big thing. And number two is to understand what introversion is and what it isn’t.

I think my third strategy is to be kind to yourself. And be kind to others. It’s not very brilliant. It’s not very complex. But when I say, “Be kind to yourself,” it’s kinda like figure out where your strengths are. Figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. And it’s like permission. It’s like – don’t beat yourself up about it.

Don’t try to push your fingers through a keyhole and try to make yourself into something you’re not, and get down on yourself for how you are. It’s like, be generous to yourself. Because you’re fine. Because you’ve got strengths. Don’t interpret them as weaknesses. You’ve got abilities, don’t interpret them as deficiencies. So I think – just to start with a guideline and to be kind to yourself, and then sort of play out how that applies. It’s – I think it’s very, it’s very useful. It took me a long time to figure that out.

Matt: I constantly will judge myself. I think every introvert does. So it’s so important to just give yourself permission to be you. I mean, you don’t have to be perfect. As a matter of fact, no one wants to work with someone that’s perfect.

John: And also – a big part of that is, don’t measure yourself up to somebody else. Don’t try to fit yourself into the mold of what you see in someone else that you admire. Go ahead and admire that person, work with that person, you might even marry that person. You don’t have to be that person. That’s not your job.

My fourth strategy is to find your medium. And that’s not singular. Find your media– Find your channels, if you will. Where you work effectively. Where you work powerfully and comfortably and effectively. And let yourself shine in those channels. So for example – myself. I don’t do phone calls. I just don’t. It took me a long time to figure this out. I don’t do phone calls. People will email me and say, “Listen, I would love to just bend your ear, just tap your brain for like 15 minutes. And do you have time to just–?”

And I very politely and gently and firmly say, “I’m sorry, no I don’t. I don’t have time to do that. I will happily have an email exchange with you. And I will. I will correspond on email till the cows come home. And I do a lot of email correspondence with people. When people contact me, people out of the blue that I don’t know at all – that I have nothing to gain from – the readers of a book, or whatever. And they say, “I want to write a book. I want to publish a book. I want to do this or that, and I want your advice on something. Would you have 15 minutes?” People always say “15 minutes,” like that’s going to really happen.

Matt: And it always takes 45.

John: Oh yeah. “Do you have just 15 minutes?” Which takes an hour. “Have you’ve got just 15 minutes on the phone?” And I say, “I’m so sorry, I don’t do that. That’s not what I do. I will gladly email you.” And I will email them back pages of my views, of my thoughts, of my advice. I’ll email generously. Because you know why? That doesn’t drain me. In fact, that nourishes me. I’ll write a four-page email, and when I’m finished, I’m ready to go work on my book.

But I’ll get off a 20-minute phone call, and I’m like, “Oh man.” I am like totally off track now, I’ve lost my concentration. It’s like – I don’t even know how to – I’ve got to go make three cups of copy. That’s going to make me buzz. And it doesn’t work for me. It knocks me off my game. I finally know that. And so I don’t do it. And I do what works. And what I found is that that’s okay with people. I mean I’m sure it’s not with a few. I’m sure there are people who said, “Guy’s got a big head, he was like too busy to talk to a little person like me.” It’s not that. I don’t have a big head, I just don’t do well with phone calls.

Matt: When you’re trying to sell to somebody, you’ll take a call if you need to. But when somebody’s asking you for advice, they’ve got to choose your communication method. I mean, I remember having– I judge AngelHack, and I mentor the group afterwards. And I said to them, “When you’re ready for me to mentor you, pick up the phone and call me and we’ll set up a time.” Now I’m a phone call person, because I had a reading speed of a 6th grader. It’s why I worked with Derek Lewis to help me create the book, right? It’s – I have a lot of thoughts, and I like to vocalize them.

Now that doesn’t mean it doesn’t drain me. It does. But I just happen to not be able to write and read very quickly either. And I have to write it, and then listen to it and write it and listen to it. It’s why my blogs are so good. But it takes me a lot of time. So when he reached out to me, and he then sent me an email saying, “What times would work better for you?” And I said, “I told you to call me to book in a time. Please call me to book in a time.”

He then sent me a Doodle invite, to say– ‘Cause he was an introvert too. A Doodle invite to pick the times that worked for me. And I said, “This is the last time I will respond via email. Pick up the phone and call me to book in a time, or I’m no longer your mentor. And he called me. He’s like, “Matt, why did you have such a hard time?” And I said, “Because my job’s to teach you how to sell. And two times, the customer told you to communicate in a style that you weren’t comfortable with – and you decided to – no, it needed to be in the style that I’m comfortable with. Well I’ve coached clients like you before, and if I can’t get you to get into the point that isn’t as comfortable for you, you’re not going to make any money.

John: Years ago, I was in a relationship with a guy – business relationship with a guy. Where he was a publisher for a magazine, and I was the Editor in Chief. So we were like producer and director of a film. And this was a guy who loves the phone. He could just live on the phone. He fills phone calls with words like you fill a bathtub with water. And you already know me, I’m an email guy. He would want to get on the phone with me, and I would try to email him back. And it – I almost had to quit. He almost had to fire me. I mean it got– I would sit and I would stew for like an hour or two. Tell my wife, “I can’t–” He’s like, we’re like loggerheads.

I finally realized I had to just call him. I had to just get on the phone with him. And this is a little bit like you and blogs. I can do that. What I have to do is – I have to just put the afternoon aside. And I have to just know that I’m not going to get anything else done. I can’t get any writing done. I’m just going to have to have a cup of coffee, block out some time, get on the phone – and just be ready to be on the earbuds and just go. I can do it, I’m tired afterwards, my afternoon is shot. But when it’s – when the situation calls for it, I’ll absolutely do it. It’s just not my channel, I’d rather not if I can avoid it.

Matt: And I think it’s important that everybody understands that. They’ve got to understand when they’re selling, they have to choose one method. When they’re the customer, they can choose another. And sometimes you have to bring somebody into your method. So you had a conversation, and how did that go?

John: And can I just give you an example of this? I was – one time, many years ago – my agent called and– She emailed me actually. She knows me. And said that– She is Spencer Johnson’s agent – Spencer Johnson, who wrote The One Minute Manager. Amazing, brilliant, hugely successful. And Spencer had a project that she wanted to know if I could work with him on this project. This is like being asked to work with Oprah or something, or God. I don’t know, whatever?

And so I say, “Yeah.” But I had to sell myself. I mean, he – Spencer wasn’t sure. So we had to get on the phone. And – again, this is not my milieu. But sometimes you have to adapt to what a situation needs. He was the customer here. So we got on the phone – my agent, Spencer, and myself. And the first thing he says is, “So John, are you half as good a writer as they say you are?” And obviously they had talked me up and talked me up and talked me up. And probably he didn’t believe most of it, right?

“Are you half as good a writer as they say you are?” And I said, “Mr. Johnson, I am exact– They’re right, I am exactly half as good as they say I am.” He laughed, and he laughed, and he laughed, and he laughed. He hired me. We did the book together. He ended up paying me twice the figure he said he was going to.

So I can do the phone really well, when I have to. And I think that’s important that – when I say, “Find the channels that you’re good at, and shine in those channels,” you need to be prepared to function in any channel and give it your best. Just know where your strengths lie, and design your life so that they focus primarily there.

And that leads me to strategy number five. Which is – develop a business model that uses your strengths. And that’s what I’ve been fortunate enough to do over the last ten years. Is I have – as you alluded to earlier, I have this business model. Where by and large, I partner with amazing partners. My Matt Pollards. I write the book, they promote the book.

So in the case of Bob Burg, Bob is the front guy. Bob goes gives talks, he trains, he does podcasts, he does webinars, he goes on the road, he gives public talks. He keeps me chained in the basement to a desk. That’s our big joke. He has me chained in the basement to a desk with a little newspaper on the floor to sleep on. And I write. Now it isn’t that Bob can’t write. It isn’t that none of Bob’s ideas are in the book. We collaborate, we talk back and forth. But I write. I’m the guy who writes the book, he’s the guy who promotes the book.

I do the same thing with my Navy Seal sniper friend, Brandon Webb. Brandon and I have done– We just came out with book number four, Total Focus. And there I am on the cover. Brandon Webb and John David Mann. As you said, most ghostwriters don’t get on the cover, but there I am. Because we are really business partners. We know how we work together. Brandon’s the front man, and I’m the writer.

I’m doing the same thing now with this chef – Chef Charles, award winning chef, Olympic gold medalist. The Recipe. This is the book I’m self-publishing. I’m doing a lot of promotion for this, but Chef Charles is kind of the hook – an Olympic gold medalist chef. Writing a book about personal development. A drama about a young boy who’s lost his dad, it’s a book about love and loss and forgiveness, and the ingredients of greatness. It’s like a little novel of personal growth – written by a chef. It’s kind of an interesting thing. Well I’m the writer, he’s the chef.

So that’s – that’s my business model. And here’s how I work it financially. People are often curious about that. Down the middle. Bob Burg, Brandon Webb, Chef Charles – we split those books 50/50 down the middle. That’s just – that’s my business model. And it’s taken me a while to develop it. First few books I ghost wrote, I got paid like 50 cents and a cup of coffee. But that’s – that’s the model I’ve developed, and it’s worked for me. And I would encourage you– It may be a totally different context for you. But find a way to develop a business model that would be ideal for – to use your strengths. And then just work toward making that model a reality.

Matt: I think that’s a great piece of advice. Because I think a lot of people try and build a business model around what they’ve seen in the industry. And ghostwriters generally will charge for the book, and then they have no relationship. Where you’ve created these partnerships, and now you’re a sought-after author, because the partnerships worked. So–

John: Residual income for those. I get royalties for the life of the book – if the book earns royalties. Which a successful book will do.

Matt: Yeah, definitely. So I know you’ve got a couple of other quick strategies, I don’t want to miss out on any one.

John: So number six is this. And it’s sort of a life strategy. But it also can work for what we’re talking about. And that is trust that the right partner is out there, and don’t settle. I’ve said this to a lot of people in a personal context, in relation to marriage and personal relationships. I had two marriages that failed, or two marriages that succeeded for a short time, put it that way. So they say, “Third time’s a charm.” This has been true for me.

I was – at the age of almost 50, it took me half a century to bump into the person who really is my soul mate. And we have – she is a person who allows me to fulfill strategy number one – give myself permission. She lets me be who I am. I do the same for her. In life, I believe in – there is the right partner out there.

It’s true in business too. And the choice of a business partner is almost as important as the choice of a life partner. Let me put it this way – a poor choice of business partner is as big a mistake as poor choice of a life partner. So I encourage you – don’t settle. Find the right business partner, the right strategic partner, the right affiliate partner – however the business model works. The right partners are out there, and you will find lots of people who are almost but not really quite – and just be willing to let those partnerships go. Don’t settle for less than just the right partnership. Because that is out there.

Matt: That’s brilliant, and that’s great advice. I know a lot of introverts especially – they try and find an extroverted partner, ’cause they want them to do the selling and the promotion. And they’re like, “Okay, you’ll do.” That’s not the answer. Because, “You’ll do,” leads to, “Oh dear.” Yes. So no, totally, totally with you. And strategy number seven?

John: Strategy number seven – I left that one blank. ‘Cause I like to leave last one– I don’t know what strategy seven is. I guess strategy seven is – look at the other six.

Matt: Yeah, so pay attention to the six strategies.

John: Yeah. Maybe we’ll find one right now?

Matt: Yeah, well why don’t we do this? For the people that are watching, if you believe there’s a strategy that we’ve missed in this session, why don’t you post it in the comments section below this? We’d love to have that. And you know what? The winner of– Or who we think’s nailed the strategy, I will give them a free copy of The Introvert’s Edge. I’ll sign it, and I’ll send it to your house. So don’t post your address or your phone number in the comment section, I’ll reach out to you if you’re the winner. And John and I’ll chat about it, and if we think that it’s the right fit – then we will add that in, and we will send you a copy of the book. How does that sound? Do you think that sounds fair?

John: Can I put a quick plug in?

Matt: Yeah definitely.

John: I get so many people that I interact with saying – offering to show me a copy of their book, and I agree to read copies of so many people’s books. And I agreed to look at a copy of Matt’s book. And I never have high expectations. Forgive me for this. I’m not cynical, it’s just the truth. And I got a copy of Matt’s book, and I wrote – I had to write to Matt immediately. I was stunned. Impressed is too small a word.

I love that Matt’s writer, Derek, gets a stage there in one of the chapters of the book. That’s incidental, I do love that. But it’s really – it’s a beautifully written book. You have – I know that it’s not your natural medium, so that impresses me all the more. It’s clear you put a lot of time and care and thought and love into that book. It’s beautifully written, and it provides tremendous value. So I am honored to say– Folks, if you haven’t looked at the book, you really need to check out this guy’s book, it’s excellent. And I don’t say that lightly.

Matt: Thank you so much for that John, I really appreciate. And you’re right, it took – it was two years of my life. And it was going through every story. And you know this – writing a book is a collaboration. It’s the most intimate collaboration, ’cause you’re sharing all of your personal stories. And new stories come up. And the lazy writer will say, “Well that’s good enough.”

I think poor Derek had to deal with – he wrote the chapters, and then there was about 180 comments per chapter for each. And then once he finished, it was like 300 comments for the entire book, for the second round. But it is – it just grew, and it– It’s – I hope it helps every introvert do something that every introvert knows that they don’t know how to do. And if I can just use this book to help them get past that – because the skill of sales is something that I have used in every element of my life. It’s just so important. So I appreciate you saying that John, thank you so much.

John: No, you’re so welcome. Buy my book too.

Matt: Well yeah, so I was going to ask. Tell me a little bit more. Because people have just really started to get a taste of you. If people are interested in finding about – more about you, and the books that you’ve written and that sort of thing – how do people start that journey?

John: Well I have a website, where I have all my books. Where I kind of focus all of my online activity. It’s simply my name – johndavidmann.com. And the Go-Giver is the book I’m best known for. And the Go-Giver books, there’s a series of them. As I said, a new one coming out next year in 2018. And you’ll see all those there. Excerpts and sample chapters and so forth, good information about that. The book that I keep referring back to, The Recipe. Audio-visual aid, The Recipe.

Matt: Product placement. Can’t get past it.

John: That’s the book that I’m just coming out with this October. And the beautiful story about that is, that my co-author – the chef and I – were rejected by 40 publishers in New York. And check out, check this scene out – as you said, I’ve written over two dozen books, right? Published, successful – printed over two million copies in 24 languages. A handful of them New York Times bestsellers.

You would think that at this point, I wouldn’t get rejected by publishers. But I was. So we couldn’t find a publisher that fit for the book. A lot of them loved the book. They said, “Beautiful story, wonderful characters, incredible life lessons – it doesn’t fit our catalogue.” So we made the decision to publish it ourselves. Which meant putting myself into the publisher’s chair, as well as the marketer’s and promoter’s chair. Which has been a huge sort of step out for me. And that book’s coming out this October. You’ll see it on my website.

There’s also – we’re doing a pre-order special offer. Where you get all kinds of goodies – videos of me and Charles cooking and so forth. And that’s at theingredientsofgreatness.com.

Matt: Well, I urge everyone to check out that book. Because his co-author has an amazing story as well. And I was lucky enough to have a chat with John about it. And I won’t give it away, but check into the details of that book. And also go to – and it’s johndavidmann – M-A-N-N.com.

But if you’re enjoying this content, please help us help more introverts – by subscribing and posting a review, so that it goes up the iTunes charts, and more introverts just like you find it and start obtaining more success in both business and in life. But thank you again for joining me today, and I look forward to seeing you in the next one. Cheers.