Following up on a few things...

After recently posting some thoughts on the extroverted nature of Western society, I’ve been trying to reconcile the apparent contradiction of pop music stars displaying the classic traits of both introverts and extroverts.

Artists like Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, James Taylor, Prince, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, and more—were energized by their inner AND outer life. They seemed genuinely reflective (and very private) while feeding off popular adulation. They seemed to prefer solitude for composing (even Lennon did most of his writing without McCartney) and the largest public arena possible for performing.

A new study on what makes salespeople successful may shed light on this. Adam Grant of the Wharton School of Management, in a recent paper “Rethinking the Extraverted Sales Ideal,” says it’s ambiverts who get it right:

Ambiverts achieve greater sales productivity than extraverts or introverts do. Because they naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening, ambiverts are likely to express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm to persuade and close a sale but are more inclined to listen to customers’ interests and less vulnerable to appearing too excited or overconfident.

Perhaps many of the successful rock artists have been ambiverts who have struck the proper balance of introversion and extroversion—making them quietly creative in private time and boldly expressive at showtime, while being carefully tuned into their audience. If so, I want to be an ambivert too when I grow up.


Since I posted on the problems that Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has been stirring up in North Korea, things have not gotten better. He’s even threatened to launch nuclear missiles on the US—which my foreign policy staff has determined is not a good thing. But I have the perfect diplomat to negotiate a reduction of tensions between North Korea and the US. (No, not Dennis Rodman. I’ve got a better idea this time.) This is someone whom Kim’s own brother, Kim Jong-chol, reveres AND someone who knows a thing or two about mediation!

Yes, that would be Mr. Eric Clapton—the guitarist extraordinaire whose concerts Kim Jong-chol has been known to attend in Europe and Asia. If the mild-mannered Clapton (another ambivert?) was able to arbitrate the differences between his former band mates in Cream (the irascible Ginger Baker and the domineering Jack Bruce), interceding with nuclear powers should be a piece of cake. And, yes, he can bring along Dennis Rodman (always a credibility booster) who’s already the Supreme Leader's BFF.

For earlier posts on extroversion/introversion check here and here.

For an earlier post on Kim Jong-un check here.

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  1. It's an interesting idea to use Eric Clapton as an intermediary but there's a fatal flaw in the plan: Eric's track record suggests he would probably sh*g and run off with Mrs. Jong-un. On the one hand, the thought that this this might give rise to another "Layla" is hugely enticing but on the other hand, would he have time to write it before young Kim decided to nuke the entire world in retaliation?

    I think we should send Justin Bieber.

  2. While I'm all in favor of sending Justin Bieber *somewhere* I'm not firm on where, exactly.

    Ambiverts: Dan Pink's "To Sell is Human" is essentially a well-researched paean to ambiverts. As with his previous books, a fun and educational read. It confirmed many of my beliefs about "selling" and taught me some lessons in resilience.

    Ambiverts rule. At least, that's our plan. Stay tuned.

  3. Mark, I don't think Comrade Ri Sol-ju (the Supreme Leader's better half) is Clapton's type. (But Rodman would be the wild card here.) Great article about her in The Onion!

    Joel, thanks for reminding me of yet ANOTHER book I have to read. Does it have pictures?

    1. We have met the enemy, and he is us.

      Pogo was brilliant.

      I have always assumed Nancy was a political cartoon regarding a subculture I had no experience with. Because it was far less funny than High School political debates. Or foot fungus.

  4. This revelation may lead to an entire State Dept. and DOD composed of rock star ambiverts. Anybody so tough they could survive the Stones, Fleetwood Mac or the Beach Boys all those miserable years must by definition strike fear in the hearts of our potential enemies around the world.

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