Success as an Introvert for Dummies [book review]

Because of my work on the Quiet Changemaker book, I read a lot of books about/for introverts. The really vary in quality. But this one, Success as an Introvert for Dummies by Joan Pastor, PhD, is solid.

Succss as an Introvert for Dummies
The book is an overall guide to knowing more about yourself as an introvert, accepting yourself as an introvert, and providing tactics to build on your strengths and to know when introversion works against you. It covers all aspects of life–leadership, career, love, family–in high-level ways. Overall a very good introduction to life as an introvert for those who haven’t done a lot of self-exploration.

What works well

The language is very accessible. Where Quiet by Susan Cain can be dense and research-heavy, Success as an Introvert is light and conversational.

It covers all the main bases. As I mentioned above, it provides an overview of what being an introvert means in leadership, career, love, family, and just generally as an individual trying to make things work in an extrovert-centric world.

The author doesn’t suggest “overcoming” introversion. Some books oriented to introverts focus a lot of their advice on pushing people out of their comfort zones. Instead, Pastor focuses mostly on realities of introversion, where it works for you, when it might not, and how to use your strengths to overcome challenges.

Some great insights. My favourites include the sections “Breaking the rules — successfully” (on how introverted strengths can lead to better meeting facilitation), “When Playing the Extrovert Can Work”, and especially “Anticipating the Challenges of Leading as an Introvert”:

  • People may mistake your introversion for aloofness or arrogance.
  • People may mistake your introversion for a lack of self-confidence.
  • You may hit “people burnout.”
  • Multi-tasking can take its toll.
  • You may miss some of the facts you need to know.

What doesn’t work

Success as an Introvert makes what I consider a lazy mistake when it comes to advice (on leadership especially). Rather than sharing insights that are relevant specifically to introverts, Pastor just shares general tips that are relevant to everyone, regardless of the person, and doesn’t relate it back to introversion as strongly as I think she could. She covers things like “SMART Goals” and “Creating a contract with your team” which belong in more general personal/professional leadership books.

Perhaps the author makes the assumption that people reading this book aren’t also reading other self-development books. The “For Dummies” franchise may know its audience well and this may be a strategic move, but it meant that for readers like myself who do a lot of personal development reading, I had to fight the urge to skip sections.


A great introduction. If you identify as an introvert or recently received a suggestion that you might be an introvert, but haven’t done much reading on the topic, this is a great place to start. Also a great read for managers or family members of introverts.

Unofficial off-the-top-of-my-head rating?

B+. I got it from my local library, but I may considering buying it as a resource to reference.


Good jobs beyond the nonprofit sector ep03

In this Do Good Better podcast episode I chat with Dev Aujla of Catalog about whether the nonprofit sector has lost its monopoly on jobs that do good, and what the job market looks like in new types of careers and companies that are doing good (ie not just nonprofits anymore!).

I also talk about things to do when you’re leaving a job (e.g. succession planning, leaving a legacy, reflecting on learning, and actually handing over the role).

Finally, I answer the question “how should nonprofits deal with corporate volunteer days of service?” and share a listener response from Episode 02 on why she goes to conferences.

Links and resources from this episode


Submit your questions or comments by following the directions here.

Celebrating CharityVillage turning 20! #village20

CharityVillage is one of the core resources to the Canadian nonprofit sector, one that I recommend to so many people interested in working in the nonprofit sector. They are turning 20! Which is amazing considering they are web-based. What websites are you familiar with from 1995?

As part of their 20th birthday celebration, I am answering their ’20’ questions. Not actually 20 questions, but all on the theme of ’20’.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the sector over the past 20 years?

The internet. Truly. At a basic level it has changed how the sector fundraises, engages volunteers, communicates with its supporters. But even more fundamentally it has changed the structure of organizations. It means we are increasingly distributing leadership away from central offices, creating flexible work environments, and producing organizations that exist completely online.

Where do you see the sector 20 years from now?

Most definitely we’ll see fewer big, place-based organizations and more initiatives that succeed because of networks of individuals.

What I hope to see, though, is a culture of collaboration, sharing and risk-taking in service of our important missions, and less protection, competition, and risk-aversion.

What I hope to see most is most organizations going out of business because capitalism evolves to minimize the negative external impacts of business, government policies protect vulnerable people and environments, and citizens create the change they wish to see.

What’s the most creative nonprofit campaign you’ve seen in the past 20 years?

My favourite recent campaign is VOKRA (Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association) using Tinder to attract potential volunteers and adopters.

What could 20 volunteer hours do for your organization?

I’m outgoing chair of Canadian Women Voters Congress, and 20 hours could be used in so many different ways! Off the top of my head – help complete our rebranding, launch our honourary council, launch a digital ambassador program, spark campaign schools in 5 new communities, develop a robust onboarding program for new board members….so many ideas!

What impact could $20 from 20 people have through your organization’s work?

A total of $400 but, even more powerfully, 20 new supporters. It would cover costs for four women from underrepresented communities to get subsidized attendance to a campaign school. And those 20 supporters each convince five friends to help out, and on and on…wow!

What would you go back and tell your 20-year-old self?

At 20 I would be in my final year of my undergrad in science at UBC and producing/choreographing a production of Guys and Dolls as a residence advisor.

Re: my undergrad I would tell myself to take an extra year in order to take a bunch of classes that don’t count towards graduation but that interest me. Poli Sci. Organizational behaviour. Music. Geology. Architecture. Comp Sci.

Re: musical theatre I would tell myself to chill out. I was a control freak perfectionist back then (I’m now a recovering control freak perfectionist) and letting go of some of my quality standards would have let more people in.

What advice would you give to a 20-year-old starting a nonprofit career?

Negotiate salary and benefits. Learn things and achieve things outside your job descriptions. Learn how to run a good meeting. Don’t be afraid to leave your organization in order to learn more and move up. Get fundraising experience. Soak it in!

What one thing should every nonprofit professional do for 20 minutes every day?

Plan their day. Ideally based on a weekly plan. Building a weekly plan helps you outline how you are going to move important things forward, and building your daily plan from that weekly plan ensures you don’t just get urgent things done (email, meetings) but also make big things happen!

What was the best (or most embarrassing) 20 minutes of your nonprofit career?

Hmm. It’s less than 20 minutes, but both great and kind of embarassing. I had facilitated a strategic planning session for a community foundation and it went really well. One of the board members ran into my mom and told her that she should be really proud of me.

Fill in the blank – 20 years ago, I was using my computer to _____.

In 1995 I was 15 and my family didn’t have a computer yet. I think by 1996 we had a computer and got internet for Christmas. My parents had give the clue “ocean” and my younger sister hoped that we were getting jet skis. Ha! Instead the clue referred to “surfing the web.”

I can remember using the computer for writing a chemistry report on HIV/AIDS, trying to play Myst but not really getting it, and joining a chat room but, again, not really getting it and never coming back.

Favourite song from 20 years ago or when you were 20?

I got my first CD player 20 years ago. I wanted the first song I played on it to be really meaningful. It was “Hand In My Pocket” by Alanis Morissette.

How has CharityVillage impacted your career and work over the past 20 years?

I’ve found jobs on CharityVillage. I’ve recruited volunteers and contractors on CharityVillage. I’ve written for CharityVillage. I’ve been quoted in CharityVillage. I’ve recommended CharityVillage!

Collective impact: a primer

Collective impact is an increasingly common term among funders and organizations who focus on complex issues that involve multiple stakeholders.

This primer gives an overview of the term so that you can contribute to the conversation if it comes up, or perhaps can see it as an approach that may be effective for your organization and community.

A socially innovative approach

Collective Impact is the commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem, using a structured form of collaboration. Wikipedia

Collective impact is an approach that:

  • brings together stakeholders who have roles in a complex social or environmental issue,
  • in order to build a common vision for a desired future, and
  • uncover each stakeholder’s greatest opportunities to contribute to that future, and
  • who agree to focus their resources on those interventions with greatest opportunity for impact, and
  • who, as a group, continuously communicate and measure along their path towards the common vision.

Collective impact process as a cycle

But it’s more than just an approach.

While collective impact is a socially innovative approach, its success relies on people.

Relationships are fundamental. A collective impact process, when broken down into its smallest pieces, involves people, doing things, over time. Without respectful relationships between individual stakeholders, things won’t get done, and the whole approach is at risk.

Who should take a collective impact approach?

People who are invested in achieving a solution to a complex problem. People who enjoy working collaboratively with other stakeholders who are also invested in a solution. People who will persevere when things get murky.

Ideally you already work collaboratively and have good relationships with other stakeholders. The rest of the answers—like a clear vision and a strong theory of how to get there and who will do what—come as part of the process.

Who leads?

While an individual stakeholder may initiate conversations that lead towards a collective impact approach, successful collective impact initiatives rely on a neutral convenor, with a specific set of skills, to mediate, facilitate, navigate power dynamics, and ensure consistent communication, measurement, and recalibration.

This crucial support role must be resourced above an beyond stakeholders. Therefore funders also play an important role in collective impact.

The expectation that collaboration can occur without a supporting infrastructure is one of the most frequent reasons why it fails. – John Kania & Mark Kramer in Stanford Social Innovation Review 

In future posts, I’ll answer questions like:

  • How are collective impact initiatives and relationships governed?
  • Where are the resistance points to good collaboration?
  • How is collective impact similar to or different than strategic planning, impact measurement, stakeholder mapping, developmental evaluation, theories of change, basic collaboration, etc?
  • I want to try this in my community. How do I get the process started?

What other questions about collective impact do you have?