Sunday, November 1, 2009

Helping Those Who Talk Less Get Heard More

Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead
McGraw Hill
October 16, 2009

If anyone has wondered whatever happened to our jet-setting introvert coach to the rich & famous, Ms. Viola-- well, wonder no more. I have found her! Apparently at some point, Ms. Viola was taken into the Witness Protection Program. Though they didn't change her glasses or hair, they did some excellent reconstructive cosmetic surgery. She is now quite fetching and goes by the name Nancy Ancowitz. Her new book has just launched to strong reviews. I looked at her Amazon sales rank, and it is #654, which coincidentally is the exact sales ranking as my latest book Ten Lucky Things (if you divide by 381). How. Amazing. Is. That! I'm going to have to call her. Oh, wait, I hate the phone. Never mind.

"Currently winning our race for most intriguing book title of 2009 is the oxymoronic "Self-Promotion for Introverts" by Nancy Ancowitz (McGraw Hill). The "how to" book is filled with tips (rehearse is a favorite). The author's tone is supportive and she does not argue that introverts should become live wires. But what else would you expect from a book whose subtitle is "the quiet guide to getting ahead"? --The New York Times, October 28, 2009

Here is a link to a video with the author, which is a yet another example of an introvert using the buddy system to deflect the spotlight. It's five minutes long, but worth watching for the important message about negative self-talk, for which many of us have been awarded a Ph.D.

Ms. Ancowitz clearly has mastered what an introvert needs to know about self-promotion. She has spoken at New York University, Columbia University, the Smithsonian Institution, and a wide range of corporate and professional organizations. She writes a blog on the topic for Psychology Today. Her media coverage also includes, the executive career site of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Newsday,,, WABC-TV Eyewitness News, and Self, Woman’s Day, Marie Claire, and Gotham magazines.

Like Ms. Viola, Nancy's client list is full of movers and shakers and power brokers. But unlike Ms. Viola, who had a eensy (read mammoth) propensity for name-dropping, in Nancy's case, I think she strives to make the point that introverts are everywhere, and often in the top echelon of the business world.

Back in her digs after coaching/speaking/consulting, she recharges and feeds her muse as a playwright. Her Cemetery of Lips (I cannot believe she snagged this title before I did!) was selected into the CUNY Human Rights Theatre Project, the New York International Fringe Festival, and the Six Figures Theatre Company Artists of Tomorrow Festival. A staged reading of her Hablo, Diablo (translation: I Speak, Devil) played to sellout audiences at Makor (the West Side Center of the 92nd Street Y) and was featured in New York magazine.

I think a lot of us battle with Bragoraphobia-- fear of bragging. The book addresses this neatly, and has a quick quiz to assess where you stand. Believe it or not, there is something between self-aggrandizement and hiding your light under a bushel. Least that's how Nancy "c's it."

"Let’s dispel some myths about self-promotion. First, you can be a nice person and promote yourself. Next, you can promote your-self without bragging, or at the other extreme, begging. You can also do so without stretching the truth, talking someone’s ear off, or pushing. You don’t have to be self-centered. You also don’t have to be an extrovert to do it well; instead, you can let your quiet strengths shine through and do it your way. This book is about helping you fi nd your way.

Let’s look at the differences between effective self-promotion and bragging. Simply, self-promotion at its best is articulating the overlap between what you have to offer and what your target audiences need. It enables you to solve more problems for more people by letting them know about you. Bragging is talking at people, and it’s all about you. It’s not connected to your conversation partners—instead, it’s as if they’re not there. You’re just talkingabout how outstanding you are, the phenomenal achievements you’ve made, and the fancy people you know. Note the glazed eyes around you. After all, isn’t it tiresome when someone tries to impress you? Time to refresh your drink?" (Excerpt from Self-Promotion for Introverts)

So you're probably thinking at this point that I'm going to raffle her book off, don't you? Uh, you'd be wrong. :-) Not going to do it-- least not yet! What I am going to do is offer one of you the chance to join our stellar team of SVP Field Reporters, which includes such luminaries as Jennifer Hubbard, Sherrie Petersen, Boni Ashburn, Emily Wing Smith, Elizabeth Loupas, Irene Latham, Mar'ce Merrell, and Yat Yee Chong. We're looking for a volunteer reporter to contact Ms. Ancowitz and interview her for Shrinking Violets. It can be a phone or email interview, or if you're feeling flush, fly to New York and interview her in person. Whatever works! This is such great practice for getting yourself out there in the world. And we are a supportive and gentle audience. Who's game?

Lastly, I want to take this moment to officially WELCOME Robin back home from her two-thousand-week long school visit to Katy, Texas. Well, it felt like two-thousand. Lordy, ma'am. Way too long to leave us. You were missed! Sleep it off, girlfriend.

Hope you each have a fabulous week. Do something that moves you closer to your publishing dreams, will you?



laurasalas said...

I'll volunteer to interview her if you don't already have someone. Sounds like a great book!

PJ Hoover said...

Awesome post! The book looks awesome. (and the div 351 comment cracks me up!)

R.L. LaFevers said...

So great to finally know Ms. Viola's real name! :-) And what excellent advice she has for us. I especially like her myth-dispelling...

Sherrie Petersen said...

Great review, Mary! Sounds like I need to invest in this book :)

Mary Hershey said...


Looks like the early bird is going to get the worm! We'd love for you to be our Field Reporter and score us an interview with Nancy. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help!

PJ, Robin, Sherrie, thanks for coming by! I'm looking forward to hearing more from her, too!



laurasalas said...

Thanks, Mary. I'll get hold of the book, get in touch with Nancy, and start thinking of ?s.


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