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Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert's Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You'd Rather Stay Home) Hardcover – September 26, 2017
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From the Publisher
Christine Koh: I would imagine that anyone who has seen you speak or move through a crowd at an event would never guess that you identify as an introvert! You are tall, glamorous, well-spoken, impassioned, and accomplished yet also totally relatable!
Morra Aarons-mele: You are very kind to say that! I still always feel like I’m walking into lunch in middle school and no one wants to sit with me. But I’ve learned how to spot an opening in the conversation, and make my way. Even more important, I’ve learned when I have had enough and am allowed to leave.
CK: What’s it like to be an ambitious overachiever and also an introvert?
MA: Being an ambitious overachiever means I am always negotiating between selves. Like, I might be standing at a cocktail party with my two sides arguing, one who wants to make a beeline for the exit, and the one who knows she needs to stay and talk to colleagues. It’s a battle between what you’re intrinsically driven to accomplish and what your temperament makes you feel.
CK: You say that networking is a skill, and that you’d be 37% more successful if you liked cocktail parties. Is there truth to this? And how does one go about developing their networking skills?
MA: It might be more like 38%! In business, networks are everything, especially if you are responsible for sales or business development, as I am. But LinkedIn senior executive and current Silicon Valley tech CEO Arvind Rajan (who also used to hide in the bathroom) has another suggestion: just reframe your expectations of yourself as a leader. 'Networking is a skill we learn just like we learn how to do Excel', he says. 'At some level you need to master the basics. But you’re better off playing to your strengths.' Arvind is a skilled practitioner of cultivating leadership without pressing the flesh, and he has coped with his social anxiety through a very successful twenty-year career in Silicon Valley.
CK: What’s your best piece of advice for anyone at a party?
MA: Channel your inner Oprah! BlogHer cofounder and CEO Lisa Stone’s former career as a journalist was key to helping her learn to work a room in Silicon Valley. 'I’ve always been that person behind the reporter’s notebook, asking other people their opinions,” she told me. “What I don’t like is the spotlight.' If you feel alien, unworthy, shy, or nervous in a room full of powerful players, pretend you’re there to report a story. Ask people lots of questions-this is your strength as an introvert! Listen actively. Draw them out. Even the most powerful person enjoys telling their own story. You can even use it to produce content. And the truth is, when you ask people lots of questions about themselves, you’re remembered as a great conversationalist!
CK: How do you rally yourself in those moments when you just want to hide in the bathroom (or stay home in your pajamas)?
MA: I give myself a pep talk, put on my big girl panties (sorry, I’m potty training my toddler) and get out there. I need to work, I love my work, and I always feel better once I’m in the flow of it. Just because you want to hide doesn’t mean you can, or should. So I leave the house and I hustle with the best of them, and reward myself with quiet time later.
Christine Koh is the founder/editor of Boston Mamas, co-host of the Edit Your Life Show, co-author of Minimalist Parenting, and creative director at Women Online.
“Introverts will love this practical and moving guide to building a career, network, and life you love.”
(Susan Cain, author of Quiet)
“Morra Aarons-Mele has written a great guide for anyone who’s feeling the anxiety of introversion and ready to find a way to be true to yourself and feel successful and connected at the same time.” (KJ Dell’Antonia, New York Times Well Family columnist)
“Ambitious introverts finally have a career coach! Morra Aarons-Mele knows from personal experience that we shy people have burning desires to build businesses, brands, and careers, too. Her expert playbook shows how to leverage every opportunity—without sugarcoating some of the trade-offs we need to make to succeed.” (Lisa Stone, cofounder and CEO emeritus, BlogHer Inc.)
“It took me twenty years to understand that I could focus on my strengths as a leader and skip the schmoozing. If you read Morra’s book, you won’t have to learn the hard way.” (Arvind Rajan, former VP international, LinkedIn; cofounder and CEO, Cricket Health)
“[A] riveting look at redefining personal approaches to work…bolstered with helpful tools including quizzes and worksheets...The author’s attention-grabbing headlines and subheads...keep the pace quick, while her willingness to share illustrative personal experiences, both good and bad, adds vivid color to the strategies she shares.” (Publishers Weekly)
“This is THE book for Human Venn Diagrams who identify as introverts (and those who love them)...the perfect guide to help you put yourself out there as well as grant yourself a little grace when you need to recharge.” (Forbes)
“In this insightful and enjoyable book, Morra Aarons-Mele offers useful guidelines for creating a schedule and work life that you can control, allowing your ambition to shine while taking the space you need.” (Leslie Perlow, Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School)
From the Back Cover
A GUIDE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE WHO PREFER THOSE MOMENTS OF HIDING IN THE BATHROOM TO CONSTANTLY CLIMBING THE LADDER OR WORKING THE ROOM
We’ve been told that being successful looks a certain way. It’s hustling and working 24/7. It’s always being on. It’s “getting out there.” It’s constantly putting your work first at all costs—everything else can wait. Conventional wisdom tells us that this is the only way to achieve happiness and success at the highest levels of the biggest organizations and corporations. But what if you were told that just wasn’t true?
In Hiding in the Bathroom, Morra Aarons-Mele—self-proclaimed hermit entrepreneur whose clients have included the Malala Fund and three U.S. presidential campaigns—disagrees with the notion that there’s only one successful “type”: the intense, super social, sleep-deprived mover and shaker. Instead, using her shorthand for achieving a more enjoyable and balanced work life, she paves a path for ambitious people who struggle with introversion, anxiety, or just crave a little more control over their lives.
Filled with practiced advice, easy-to-follow exercises, proven tools, and real stories collected from personal experience and more than one hundred twenty interviews of successful people—entrepreneurs, academics, and those just beginning their careers—Hiding in the Bathroom empowers professionals of all ages and levels to take control of the way they work. Practical and thoughtful, Hiding in the Bathroom is a must-have handbook for building a prosperous career and a happy life—on your own terms.
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We often conflate the idea of a "leader" with the fearless extrovert salesperson, the charmer, but the reality is probably a lot different: most of Silicon Valley's entrepreneurs are also awkward introverts and in this book, Morra pioneers a new style of leadership: a quieter, more introspective, softer leader, but one that isn't any less ambitious or driven. Just one that goes after the work in a different way. Bravo, beautiful book.