Thriving As An Introvert: Agatha Brewer On How Introverts Can Thrive & Succeed In A Society That Seems To Favor Extroverts
Understand your limits. Because you’re introverted, you get your energy from being alone. This means too much time interacting with others can be draining. So, you need to be mindful of how you schedule your time and allow ample time off to recharge. If you’re doing something stressful like networking, plan some time to unwind afterward. And a note on stretch goals: It’s one thing to go after something you know is a bit out of your comfort zone, and it’s another thing to traumatize yourself. If you feel paralyzed or super anxious, that’s a sign that whatever you’re trying to do is too much for you right now.
In a world that often rewards outspokenness and social networking, introverts can sometimes feel sidelined or overlooked. The workplace, educational institutions, and even social settings can often seem engineered to suit the strengths of extroverts, leaving introverts searching for a space to flourish.
However, introversion comes with its own set of unique strengths — deep thinking, the ability to focus, empathy, and keen observational skills — that are invaluable but often underestimated. The question then becomes: how can introverts not only survive but also thrive and succeed in environments that seem skewed towards extroversion? In this interview series, we are talking to introverts, business leaders, psychologists, authors, career coaches, organizational leaders, and other experts in the field who can talk about “How Introverts Can Thrive & Succeed In A Society That Seems To Favor Extroverts”. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Agatha Brewer.
Agatha Brewer is the founder of Agatha Brewer Coaching, where she works with new entrepreneurs to help them launch businesses that make a bigger impact on the world. She combines 15+ years of digital marketing experience and her coach training (Whole Person Certified Coach®, ICF ACC) to help new business owners move their ideas out of their heads and into reality — getting them clarity around what they want to create, helping them set the right strategic foundations, and unraveling any mindset blocks that are standing in their way. She hosts The Intentional Solopreneur podcast, and her writing has been featured in multiple industry publications. She is an ambivert but leans towards introversion and has found ways to promote her business and still honor her natural personality traits.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us your “Origin Story”? Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Of course! I grew up in the Northeast. My parents emigrated to the United States from Poland and built their careers here as architects. I was born in Kuwait, but don’t remember anything from that time because my family left when my twin sister and I were very little.
I remember having a good childhood, but there was a lot of moving around as my parents took jobs in different states. We moved about five times throughout my childhood, so that made making friends somewhat tricky, especially as someone who wasn’t extroverted. I also felt like an outsider sometimes, as I grew up in a Polish household in America, and most of my friends growing up weren’t that exposed to other cultures. Thankfully, this changed when I got to high school, where many of my friends were also first- or second-generation immigrants. I did make some good friends there, some that I still talk to today. After high school, I moved to New York City and started my career in marketing.
Can you tell us a bit about what you do professionally, and what brought you to this specific career path?
I am a business coach and marketing mentor for new entrepreneurs. I’ve also worked in digital marketing for the last eighteen years, working everywhere from boutique agencies to Fortune 500 companies, running complex marketing programs. I chose this path because I wanted to do something creative that didn’t involve math!
So, now, onto how I got interested in coaching: In 2019 while healing myself from a chronic illness, I learned about neuroplasticity and how the brain can change its structure and be rewired. As I learned more, I realized that what I was telling myself in my head was actually creating my reality and perpetuating the disease in my body. I worked diligently to rewire my brain, and when I started to see results, I went after my dream of starting a business. I decided to train to be a life coach to use my knowledge about changing old thought patterns to help people transform their lives.
I coach new business owners around their mindset and marketing, specifically solopreneurs and service-based business owners. I love helping new business owners develop a customized marketing plan and strategy that aligns with their personality and strengths so they can show up confidently to market their business. To succeed in marketing, you need to market from a place of strength and enjoy what you’re doing to stay consistent. So, I help my clients choose marketing channels and strategies that they feel good about from the very beginning. This way, they’re much more likely to get the results they’re looking for.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Thriving As An Introvert. In order to make sure that we are all on the same page, let’s begin with a simple definition. What does “Introvert” mean to you?
When I think of an introvert, I think of someone who is more comfortable in small groups of people and who may need more time to recharge alone at the end of a day, especially if they’ve been around many people. Introverts usually think before they speak and process a bit more, so they can come across as shy or quiet.
Can you help articulate a few of the challenges that come with being an introvert?
I will answer this question with entrepreneurs in mind, as that’s who I work with.
Introverts have some challenges connecting with other people, especially in an environment where there are people with different personalities. By that, I mean where there are more extroverted people. Because the extrovert is happy taking all the attention for themselves, and someone more introverted will typically absorb what is happening around them instead of speaking up. This leads to the introvert getting fewer opportunities to be heard or overlooked when they may have a valuable opinion to share.
As someone who leans towards introversion myself, it’s hard to speak up when I’m in a room with people who have stronger personalities. I’ve had to train myself to be more assertive and voice my opinion, and it hasn’t always been easy. And this is especially true in a corporate environment or entrepreneurial space where there’s more competition.
Another challenge for introverts is that they may compare themselves to others who are more extroverted (and often, society does this for them) and feel like they’re not good enough at communicating, making them socially anxious or have lower confidence.
When this type of person tries to start a business, these challenges only magnify. Trying to promote yourself when you’re already feeling a bit inadequate compared to your peers is tough. And if you enjoy being alone and working by yourself vs. networking and being social, building a business will be more difficult because most marketing channels require you to be more visible.
I’m sure that being an introvert also gives you certain advantages. Can you tell us a few advantages that introverts have?
Introverts are great listeners. Because they’re not trying to always think of the next thing to say, they have a lot more time to absorb and process information. They pick up on things other people miss and are more considered in their responses. They are also great at connecting with people one-on-one and having deep conversations.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being an introvert? Can you explain what you mean?
Introverts are sometimes misunderstood by others. Just because you don’t have many things to say doesn’t mean you don’t have an opinion. You may want to share your thoughts when asked vs. “word vomiting” like some extroverts who process their thoughts aloud. And it doesn’t mean you’re not as intelligent, ambitious, or attentive. I also think they may be considered boring at first glance when they are passionate people; you may just not know them on that level.
Do you have any role models who are also introverts? What have you learned from them that can help introverts navigate the challenges and benefits of introversion?
Some of the business coaches and influencers I follow are naturally more introverted. They’ve grown their business while staying true to their personality (by picking marketing strategies that align with their strengths, like writing or podcasting, for example).
But I’ve also seen them move out of their comfort zone and take an opportunity (like public speaking) that’s more of a stretch for them. I’ve learned that even if it’s not your natural strength, you can still lean into it and learn to be more comfortable doing something outside your norm. This way, you can lead with the things that are easy for you but not have to turn down good opportunities to grow your business.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the “Five Things Introverts Need To Thrive & Succeed In A Society That Seems To Favor Extroverts”?
Again, I will answer this question from an entrepreneur’s perspective.
1 . Don’t try to fight your natural personality. What I mean by this is you need to embrace the fact that you’re an introvert. Don’t try to change this to fit what society may want from you. You are just as valuable as your ambivert and extrovert friends, and you don’t need to change who you are to be successful.
An example I can share here is when I first launched my business. I took a lot of courses from other business coaches. One of them told me to “cold DM” or direct message potential clients and ask them to work with me after initiating a conversation. I knew I didn’t like this strategy because it felt way too aggressive and unnatural for me, like something a salesperson would do. It’s about the same as walking into a room full of strangers and starting a conversation while also pitching them your services, not knowing if they have any interest. I tried the strategy for about two days and gave up because it felt terrible. I tried to fight my natural personality, and my personality won.
2 . Choose marketing strategies that are aligned with your personality and strengths. As you can see from my story, you need to choose marketing strategies (or channels) aligned to your personality and strengths. This is super important because if you don’t enjoy your marketing strategy, you won’t do it. And that will be the end of that.
I created a quiz that helps people figure out their natural strengths when it comes to marketing. I’ve taken the quiz myself, and I’m an Ambivert Storyteller. This means I can go back and forth between an introvert and an extrovert, depending on how I feel that day. And my natural strength is that I like telling stories. These two pieces of information were super helpful when I chose my marketing channels. That’s why I host my own podcast and have a blog — because they both allow me to be a bit behind the scenes while still telling stories and educating my audience. Now, because I know I can also push myself to be a bit more extroverted, I can also occasionally do a guest speaking engagement.
Some of the women I’ve worked with decided early on that social media would not be a viable option for them. It feels forced and like they’re sharing too much personal information with the world. So, they chose strategies like blogging or doing small workshops where they can connect with people in person instead.
3 . Get creative with lead generation. Contrary to popular belief, there are ways to grow your business without being “on” all the time. Instead of hosting a live webinar, you can do one that’s pre-recorded, so you can edit yourself and have more control. Or you can create a lead magnet like the quiz I made that works even while you sleep. Email marketing is another marketing channel that can help you nurture your audience without relying on social media or answering your DMs. And finally, it may make sense to create some referral partnerships. This way, people can do a bit of the selling for you!
4 . Give yourself stretch goals. While it’s best to stick to your natural strengths, in business, it’s also important to not always stay in your comfort zone. If you’re introverted, you may underestimate your abilities sometimes and want to avoid doing something that makes you more visible. This is why I ask my clients to give themselves a couple of “stretch goals” to work on. Things that they’d like to be able to do but are a little bit afraid of. The key here is to take small steps towards your goals, not try and do everything all at once. If your goal is to public speaking, you wouldn’t try and do a TED Talk first. You’d speak to a small group and then expand on that.
An anecdote I can share from my experience: I remember one of my first public speaking experiences in my coaching business was to a group of women in Australia. It was a stretch goal I had given myself as I’m not someone who enjoys public speaking, but I knew it was good for my business to be more visible. I had to give a virtual presentation to a group of women I’d never met, and the topic was about moving through fear as a new business owner. The irony was that I was also moving through my own fear in even showing up and giving this presentation.
My best tip for public speaking is to know your material. The more you practice, the easier it gets, even if something unexpected happens. And come at it from a place of trying to serve your audience. If you focus on what they will get from your talk, you’ll take the focus off you.
Another thing that can happen with public speaking is that it can trigger your fight or flight response, which is just your nervous system’s way of trying to protect you. The more you do it, the more you train yourself that you are safe and have nothing to worry about. But you may have to feel the uncomfortable sensations in your body (increased heartbeat, sweaty palms, etc.) and accept them to move through them.
5 . Understand your limits. Because you’re introverted, you get your energy from being alone. This means too much time interacting with others can be draining. So, you need to be mindful of how you schedule your time and allow ample time off to recharge. If you’re doing something stressful like networking, plan some time to unwind afterward. And a note on stretch goals: It’s one thing to go after something you know is a bit out of your comfort zone, and it’s another thing to traumatize yourself. If you feel paralyzed or super anxious, that’s a sign that whatever you’re trying to do is too much for you right now.
How should an introvert navigate social relationships and networking, activities that are often touted as extroverts’ forte? Do you have any advice for introverts in these areas?
Regarding social relationships, I’d suggest you focus on building one relationship at a time vs. thinking you need to be friends with everyone in a group. After you’ve connected with one person, adding more people over time becomes easier. And the same goes for networking — instead of trying to talk to everyone, hone in on a few people you want to connect with. That’s a natural strength of introverts — they don’t like superficial relationships and small talk, so they can focus on deep conversations with just a few people.
What are some practical tips you can offer to introverts who want to succeed in the workplace, which is often geared towards extroverted behaviors?
I’ve spent most of my life working in corporate, and it is definitely geared towards extroverts. Extroverts get more promotions, get the limelight in conference rooms, and are generally better at climbing the corporate ladder. But I’d say that introverts should make it a point to speak up early so they don’t get outspoken by other people. Or they can gather their thoughts before meetings so they know their opinion on something. I think the most challenging part for introverts is when they’re put on the spot — they don’t have the time to form a full opinion — so my advice there is to do your best, but understand it’s okay to say that you need more time to think things through or come to a complete decision.
Have you noticed any specific ways that being an introvert affects mental health or overall well-being? Any tips for introverts to maintain good mental health?
I think introverts can feel less than or have lower confidence than others. Their introversion can also lead to feeling lonely, even if they enjoy being alone if that makes sense. And they sometimes get caught in overanalyzing situations. Just acknowledging that these things might come up can help. And doing your best to build a support group for yourself — other like-minded people, for example, who share a hobby or are also introverted. This may help you to feel more understood.
In your opinion, are societal views on introversion changing? If so, how do you think this impacts introverts positively or negatively? Can you please explain what you mean?
While I do think society’s views on introversion are changing, and there is more awareness and acceptance of different personality types, it is still difficult for introverts to be taken seriously in business settings, especially if you want to be in more of a leadership role.
If you’re in a leadership role, you’re expected to speak up in meetings, manage others, and spend time socializing with your colleagues, all things that can be challenging for introverts. The same goes for entrepreneurs — you have to be able to confidently promote your business and services to attract clients.
The main thing that introverts should focus on is understanding their strengths and weaknesses and working on the things they can control.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
I’ve lost my job during a recession or layoff several times, and I’ve always immediately worried if I could find something else to replace it. It’s happened to me several times, and I ended up finding something even better every single time. So, I’ve learned to believe that the Universe supports me, even when I think it’s not.
And I’ve had similar experiences in my business. When I doubted myself and my abilities or questioned whether I could find clients, the Universe would always send me a small sign that people do want to work with me and that I am good enough. Everything from a new email subscriber who wants to hear from me to a potential client reaching out to me for more information. This shows me that I don’t have to worry; I just have to keep putting myself out there and have faith that good things will come to me.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Outside of helping entrepreneurs launch businesses that impact the world in a bigger way, I also enjoy gardening. I hope that more people learn where their food comes from and respect it more. It’s important to understand how much effort goes into growing a plant from scratch, even if you don’t garden yourself. Now that I’ve been gardening for about ten years, I try not to waste food and compost as much as possible. In the future, we will have to be more self-reliant, and learning how to grow our own food is just one small part of that. Not to mention the health benefits you get from gardening — eating quality, organic food vs. a commercial product sprayed with pesticides, getting some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise. I get some of my best exercise while working in my garden, and the mental benefits are plentiful, too.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
They can find out more about the work I do at www.agathabrewer.com. They can also follow me on Instagram @agatha_brewer, and I’ve got a podcast called The Intentional Solopreneur, which can be found on all the major apps. I share my best marketing and mindset tips for new entrepreneurs.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
Thank you. It was my pleasure! And the same good wishes to you.
Thriving As An Introvert: Agatha Brewer On How Introverts Can Thrive & Succeed In A Society That… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.