Meet the Minnesotan behind the largest website for introverts

A former St. Paul schoolteacher created the largest website for introverts.
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There's nothing wrong with you because you're quiet. You're not broken because you like spending time alone.

That's advice from Introvert, Dear – the largest website of its kind for introverts. It was created by former St. Paul schoolteacher (and now author) Jenn Granneman.

For the first chapter of her life, Granneman struggled to understand why she was different. Growing up, her parents, teachers, and friends were always asking, "Why are you so quiet?" or "Why don't you talk more?" 

After college she spent a few years in journalism. Having to call people and do interviews made her anxious and left her feeling drained. When she went back to school to become a teacher, she couldn't relate to her peers.

"They sat in little groups on breaks, bursting with energetic chatter, even after we’d just spent hours doing collaborative learning or having a group discussion. I, on the other hand, bolted for the door as quickly as possible – my head was spinning from all the noise and activity, and my energy level was at zero," Granneman wrote in an article on her site.

It wasn't until her late 20s that Granneman learned the magic word that explained so much: introvert.

She'd been browsing a used bookstore when The Introvert Advantagecaught her eye. She took the book home and read it cover to cover.

"I'm not much of a crier, but I did cry. I had never felt so understood in my life," she told GoMN. "From then on, I read everything about introverts that I could get my hands on."

Granneman also wanted to write about her own life "living as an introvert in an extroverted world." So in 2013, she started blogging. In just a few years, what started as a personal blog now averages 800,000 page views per month and has over a quarter million followers.

Granneman says introverts make up 30-50 percent of the population, which explains why the site has become so successful. Introverts from all over the globe submit articles about relationships, careers, self-development, personal stories, and the science and psychology behind what makes introverts tick. 

Now Granneman has tackled another huge milestone: her first book. The Secret Lives of Introverts was released on Tuesday and is already sold out on Amazon, Barnes and Noble (website and stores), and most bookstores.

If you don't wanna wait for a restock to get a copy, Granneman will have some at her Secret Lives of Introverts Book Signing Un-Party at Bad Weather Brewing Company in St. Paul on Thursday, Aug. 10.

GoMN had a chat with Granneman about introversion, her first book launch, and what exactly an "un-party" entails.

Q & A

What's the most misunderstood thing about introverts? Introverts tend to be quiet and keep their thoughts to themselves, which leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Often, more extroverted types will misinterpret an introvert’s quietness as rudeness, aloofness, or disinterest. This isn’t fair to introverts, who tend to have a lot going on internally but don’t always share their passionate feelings and big ideas with the world. I wish others wouldn’t make assumptions about a quiet person. A person may be quiet for many reasons. They may need time to warm up to others, or they may simply be enjoying the thoughts in their private inner world.

Do you think introverts can hold leadership roles? Absolutely! So many introverts hold leadership roles, from Bill Gates to Warren Buffet to Barack Obama. In fact, about 40 percent of executives describe themselves as introverts. Of course, introverted leaders will look somewhat different than extroverted ones. The introverted leader will think first and talk later, will focus deeply, and will embrace creative thinking in solitude. Interestingly, a study called the CEO Genome project found that a little over half of the leaders who performed better than expected in the minds of investors and directors were not the gregarious, extroverted types — they were introverts.

Why does introversion seem to be so popular these days? There is certainly more awareness about introversion these days, thanks to the introvert positive movement. I’d like to think that my website, IntrovertDear.com, has contributed to that movement in some small way. For too long, our society has favored the quick-thinking, smooth-talking extrovert, and has overlooked introverts and their quiet contributions. Our society is starting to wake up and realize that the introverted way is valuable, too. 

You interviewed a ton of people for this book. Wasn't that uncomfortable? I interviewed hundreds of introverts, so most of that was actually done through email or social media. But there were some that I did in person. I was a journalist for years, so I tried to tap into my past experiences.

Tell me about your book release "un-party." I wanted to celebrate my first book in a way that would honor introverts, so it'll feature ways to enjoy yourself even if you don't like parties. I released a coloring book specifically for introverts last year, and there will be a quiet recharge area where people can go to color or just take a break and not have to talk for awhile. 

I'm also having a special mystery guest who will be playing music. I can't say who it is, but he's a Minnesota darling and local legend who's also an introvert. And the Sasquatch Sandwiches food truck will be there serving introvert-themed dishes – I'm really excited because I got to name the sandwiches.

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