I recently took the Myers-Briggs Inventory for the fourth or fifth time and as before scored (as expected) as an introvert – not as an extreme introvert- but still solidly in the introvert camp. Taking the test reminded me of how my score on a test right after college led to my career in Market Research. I was presented with a list of potential careers based on my test results, which included Market Research. So, one reason why Market Research may be filled with introverts is because career counselors have identified it as appropriate for introverts.
I think Market Research is well suited to introverts, it can be a great career. (It was for me.) But it has changed since I entered it. Prior to automation, there was lots of solitary work, pulling data, creating charts and graphs, and writing reports. With automation and outsourcing, some of that has gone away.
There are other work environment changes in recent years that affect the suitability of the work for introverts. In her book, Quiet, Susan Cain talks about the relatively new emphasis on team work, which puts a strain on introverts. The world in which cube farms are common and offices are rare also puts a strain on introverts. Thank heaven; this is counterbalanced by an increased ability to be effective remotely so that more and more people are working at home. Working at home would seem to be a dream situation for an introvert, but if the person doesn’t make an effect to get out to make sure your work gets recognized, it could be make one less successful.
Introversion is a hot topic. I am getting lots of readers of this blog who want to know about introverts can act like extroverts. Bob Lehrer, in his PharmaMR newsletter that came out this week, has chosen to focus on my views about introversion. The first draft I reviewed sounded like I was very critical of introverts, which I am not. Just to be totally clear, I consider myself militantly pro-introvert! I am however focused on the tension between introversion and what it takes to be successful in the Market Research function. One of my goals in this blog and the work I do is to help introverts become more effective, without changing their fundamental nature. While I loved the premise of Susan Cain’s book Quiet, that the pro-extrovert world should adapt to recognize and get the most out of the introverts in the world, I know that I can’t do anything about that. What I hope to help with is to identify small changes that an introvert can make to adapt to the “world that won’t stop talking” (from Susan Cain’s subtitle).