Episode 336

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Like so many other business environments, our industry is one that is undeniably extroverted on the surface. Agency work is collaborative, relational, creative, and dynamic — all attributes that seem to be catered almost exclusively to extroverted individuals. So where does that leave our introverted counterparts?

Monica Parkin, my guest for this episode, is not only an award-winning public speaker, an acclaimed author, and an engaging business leader; she’s also a total introvert (a title she wears with pride). Like so many, she used to think that gaining momentum in this industry as an introvert was an uphill battle — that is until she decided to flip those false assumptions right on their head. And now, she’s here to help us do the same.

Monica knows firsthand that introverts offer a host of hidden talents and superpowers that are invaluable for all agency teams, talents that are often overlooked or overpowered by the “louder” voices in the room. During our awesome conversation, she reveals what those superpowers are, how introverted individuals can harness their unique skills to find success without pretending to be someone they aren’t, and how agency leaders can create environments that allow the introverted voices within their own teams to rise above all the noise and truly shine.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Agency Leaders

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why introverts are natural relationship-building masters
  • How career paths look different for introverts and extroverts, but lead to the same level of success
  • Tips, tricks, and tactics for introverts looking to magnify their ideas, form meaningful business relationships, and make their voices heard
  • Why marketing “like an extrovert” simply doesn’t work for introverts — and why that’s ok
  • How agency leaders can create environments that empower introverted talent to thrive
  • Why introverts and extroverts are both invaluable agency resources
  • How to create magic by mixing introverted and extroverted talent into your agency teams
“Introverts, actually, are phenomenally good at building relationships.” @mortgage_monica Click To Tweet “The way that introverts build relationships, the way that they network and market themselves, is very different from the way extroverts do it. It’s not good or bad, it’s just dramatically different.” @mortgage_monica Click To Tweet “I started just being this person who I’d never shown anyone in my life, and magical things started to happen.” @mortgage_monica Click To Tweet “Put them (introverts) in the places they’re going to thrive best — put them in the smaller teams or put them on a problem because they love to solve problems.” @mortgage_monica Click To Tweet “Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, if you can make that person across from you feel seen, feel heard, feel valued and important, they will never forget you.” @mortgage_monica Click To Tweet

Ways to contact Monica Parkin:

Resources:

  • Monica’s Book – Overcoming Awkward, the Introverts Guide to Networking Marketing and Sales available on Amazon and Audible!

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Agency Management Institute community, where you’ll learn how to grow and scale your business, attract and retain the best talent, make more money, and keep more of what you make. The Build a Better Agency Podcast, presented by White Label IQ, is packed with insights on how small to midsize agencies survive and thrive in today’s market. Bringing his 25-plus years of experience, as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, everybody. Drew McLellan here from Agency Management Institute. Welcome back to another episode of Build a Better Agency. I loved doing the series in January, where I just talked with you for, I think it was six weeks without a guest, but I have to tell you, it’s nice to have guests back in the studio, air quotes, “studio,” and be able to just have conversations with people and learn from them. I’m always happy to teach, but I love when I get to teach and learn by having a conversation on our behalf with somebody else, and this I think is going to be a really fascinating conversation. Before I tell you about that, you know that there’s something else I want to talk to you about.

I’m going to tell you that the Build a Better Agency Summit is shaping up to be even better than the first one, and I can’t imagine that I am saying that to you, because the first one was so amazing last August, but this one, we’ve got amazing speakers. We have Carla Johnson, who’s going to talk about how to create innovation inside your business. We have Adam Carroll, who’s going to talk about building your wealth outside of the business so that you can create a legacy for yourself and your family. We’re going to talk about gratitude. We’re going to talk about leadership. We’re going to talk about strategy. We’re going to talk about biz dev. We are going to talk about impostor syndrome. We have it all. We’re going to talk about money stuff; we’re going to talk about leadership stuff; we’re going to talk about process stuff; biz dev. We’re going to cover all of the big bases, with some really remarkable speakers.

We’re also going to do some fun things, like Tuesday night we’re going to head out to a place called Flight Club, which is this huge competitive dart bar. I don’t even know how to describe it to you, other than it’s basically darts and drinks. You can compete and you can play with friends and people you’ve just met and get to know people. We did it last year and it was a blast. The other thing we’re going to do is, as many of you know, if I’m infamous for anything, it is the besmirching of the fictionary woman Babette. Whenever I have an example of somebody who is not living up to our expectations, I always use Babette as my example name.

Well, we have created a signature drink called the Babette that you are going to love, so the last afternoon of the conference, we’re going to gather in a room, everybody’s going to get a Babette or two, and then, much to my chagrin, we are going to open the floor for open Q&A, so you will be able to ask me anything. There is going to be a moderator, so maybe not anything, but you are going to be able to ask me questions about the business, about your business; anything that you want. I think that’ll be a really fun way to end the conference. If you want to join us, we only have about a hundred tickets left, so I really would love it if you would grab one of those tickets before we sell out.

We absolutely can’t take more than 300 people, so grab a ticket now. Go over to agencymanagementinstitute.com, and the very first tab on the navigation bar is BABA Summit. Grab that, the Build a Better Agency Summit. Grab your ticket now. Bring some team members. This is not just for owners. I would say leadership level and above; I wouldn’t bring like a junior woodchuck or an intern, although some people actually brought their kids who were studying marketing. That was fun to have them with us too, so maybe I’m correcting myself. Just bring anybody you want. We will make them feel welcome. There’s going to be plenty for them to learn and do, and we would love to have you with us, so grab a ticket before it’s too late and we are sold out, okay?

Let me tell you a little bit about our guest. Monica Parkin is a woman who was in the high-pressure world of mortgage sales, and she is self-professed an introvert and was struggling to figure out how to be successful and how to thrive in an environment where it seemed like everything she was being taught how to do her job was for an extrovert. She actually did some research and some studying, and she wrote a book, so we are going to talk all about how introverts can function really well in the agency world, in the sales world; some of the ways that we as agency owners and leaders can recognize and tap into the very unique talents of introverts; and I think it’s going to be fascinating. As a self-professed extrovert, I know there’s a lot I don’t know, so I’m going to be probably asking a lot of dumb questions, and I’m hoping she’ll be graceful about that. I’m sure she will. Let’s just jump in and start the conversation. Monica, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining us.

Monica Parkin:

Thanks. Excited to be here.

Drew McLellan:

Give everybody just a sense of your background, what prompted the book, and where you’ve gone with the book since it came out.

Monica Parkin:

Yeah, yeah. My background is, actually I was originally a mortgage broker. When I first went into that career, I didn’t get the memo about what a mortgage broker does. I thought I’d just be sitting at home, playing with my dogs and some emails. Wouldn’t have to interact with people at all.

Drew McLellan:

Right. That whole people thing.

Monica Parkin:

Apparently that’s like 20% of the job, so I show up at my new agency or wherever I worked the first time, and they’re like, “So, what’s the first networking event you’re going to do? What are you going to do to go get your clients?” I was like, “Wait, what? Huh?” That’s not what I had envisioned, so at that point I had to reshuffle my brain.

Drew McLellan:

Where do you go from there, then, right?

Monica Parkin:

Yeah, exactly. They’re like, “Well, we’ll make it easy for you. There’s a Chamber of Commerce dinner next week. We’re all going. You can come with us.” Just about quit on the spot, because I was like, “There’s no way I can do this.” Show up at this event. None of my coworkers are there yet. Walk in the door, see all of the people. Uh-uh. Turn around and go out to my car and sit there and play on my phone, basically, to figure out, “How am I going to get out of this thing?”

Unfortunately one of my coworkers shows up, so I have to go back inside, but I did all of the things you’re supposed to do. I walked around and I handed out cards. I’m like, “Ah, I’ve got the best rate. I’m the best mortgage broker.” All of that stuff. Come home and I look at all of these cards in my hand, and I’m like, “I don’t know these people. I didn’t make a connection to them.” I throw the cards in the garbage, and as I’m throwing the cards in the garbage, I have this light bulb moment where I’m like, “Oh, crap. If I’m throwing out their cards, that means they’re throwing out my cards too.” None of that worked for me, and that’s when I realized, “I have to do things a different way.” That was the beginning of this journey.

Drew McLellan:

What prompted you to write the book?

Monica Parkin:

Yeah. The funny story about the book is I was literally… we were in the middle, beginning of the pandemic, so I’ve got a lot more free time on my hands. I’m sitting at home, scrolling through Facebook, and I see this 30-day writing challenge. I’m like, “Hmm, I don’t have that hour commute in the morning and the afternoon kind of thing. Maybe I could do this. Maybe I could write a book in 30 days.” The first question they sent us as part of that writing challenge is, “What is something you’ve overcome? What is a challenge you’ve had to overcome? That’s what your book has to be about.” That’s what immediately popped into my head is this whole, I’ve had to overcome this shyness, this introvertedness, this social awkwardness.

Drew McLellan:

I’m curious; what was the process of writing the book like for you? Was that painful? Was it pleasurable? Was it…

Monica Parkin:

It was a bit of each. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but I get a little vulnerable in some chapters. I do share a lot of vulnerability in there, but it was also really enjoyable to get out those thoughts and ideas and things that had worked for me and share them with others, and I did it a whole bunch of different ways. Some days I’d sit and write for an hour; some days I’d just, because I’m a speaker, so I’d just be driving the kids to school. I’d hit record and I’d record myself, and then come home and run it through transcription software. I’d pull out some old speeches I had done and go, “Yeah, this would be a great chapter.” It’s just like a mishmash of everything.

Drew McLellan:

Yep. I have had a similar experience with some of the books that I’ve written, too. At the end of the day, what you overcame, if I can encapsulate it, and correct me if I’m getting this wrong, is that there’s a way for people who are shy or quiet or introverted to be super successful; they just have to find a different path. Yes?

Monica Parkin:

Yeah, 100%. That’s what the research shows is that introverts actually are phenomenally good at building relationships. You look at Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, those people are phenomenal entrepreneurs, but they do it in a different way. The way that introverts build relationships, the way that they network and market themselves, is very different from the way extroverts do it. It’s not good or bad; it’s just dramatically different. If you’re an introvert and you’re trying to market like an extrovert, it’s not going to work, and vice versa.

Drew McLellan:

Do you think the message to introverts is, consciously or subconsciously, “Here’s the one way to do this, and it’s the extrovert way, so you have to conform to that; otherwise you’re not successful”? I mean, why did you think you had to do it in a way that was so foreign to you?

Monica Parkin:

Yeah, totally. I do completely think that that’s the message, and I was actually on a podcast yesterday with this cool 21-year-old business student who’s just started a podcast for other students, and that’s what he said. He was like, “I don’t understand. If this is the only way that I can be successful…” We had to have a conversation around that, because no, that’s not the only way. That’s you pretending to be someone you’re not, and that never works for anybody.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and in fact, you’re not going to be successful that way, right?

Monica Parkin:

Yeah, you’re like a fish out of water. You are so far out of your comfort zone that you just can’t.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. After the card-throwing-away incident, as we’ll call it, how did you begin to discover your way of… and discover sounds like you were making it up. How did you begin to recognize that you had a different way of creating a relationship and being successful professionally and all of that? How did you uncover all of that?

Monica Parkin:

Yeah. Well, it was definitely a journey. There’s two parts. One of it was reaching out to people in my industry and saying, “Are you buying leads? What are you doing? How are you getting the business? What’s happening?” We can talk about that. Then the other part was me just stumbling along, figuring out what was working, and then trying to expand on the stuff that worked and discard the stuff that didn’t.

Drew McLellan:

I’m curious; you were obviously an adult when this happened, so you obviously had personal relationships where you had been successful, right?

Monica Parkin:

Yeah, but you know what, I had a very, very small social circle. I was that mom that would not even walk my kids into school. I’d drop them off at the curb, because heaven forbid I’ve got to talk to the other moms.

Drew McLellan:

Had to talk to somebody, right?

Monica Parkin:

Yeah, and I wouldn’t even let my kids go over to their friend’s house, because that meant I’d have to have their friends over to my house, which means I’d have to make friends with their moms. I was like, “I’m not doing that. Too much drama. I don’t want to be part of that.” Obviously, my life is… I mean, this was seven or eight years ago, so I went from this tiny little social circle of literally my husband, my kids and my extended family and a couple best friends, to this huge social circle. I don’t even know how many people I have in my social circle, but on any given day I could pick up the phone and call 20 people and have a really good connection and a really good conversation.

Drew McLellan:

What switch had to get flipped for you to go, “I not only can do this, but I can enjoy this”?

Monica Parkin:

Yeah. Well, the first one, if we go back to where I reached out to those mentors in the industry and said, “What’s the secret? What am I not doing? What am I doing wrong?” They all said the same thing, and to be honest, it kind of pissed me off. They all said, “Just be you. Just be yourself.” The first one, and I was like, “That’s crap. Give me a break. Stop it.” Then I called the next-

Drew McLellan:

Right. “I want the secret.”

Monica Parkin:

I know, right? I’m like, “No, that’s not good.” I called the next one and the next one, and I’m on person number four, and they all say the same thing. I’m getting more and more pissed off, because that’s what people used to tell me as a kid in school when I couldn’t make friends: “Be yourself.” I’m like, “Listen, the kids do not like myself. They don’t like that.” Then I sat with it for a while, because I’m like, “Well, everyone’s telling me the same thing.” That’s what I started to do. I stopped being this person that I thought everyone wanted me to be. I stopped talking about mortgages and business and being this stuffy businessperson, and I started…

I have little miniature goats on my farm, and I’m this quirky, nerdy person, and I started just being this person that I’d literally never showed anyone in my life, and magical things started to happen. People started to reach out to me and connect to me, and, “Hey, I saw your post the other day.” I took my little goats in to the vet to get their vaccines, and I always posted… Mortgage Monica is my tagline, so you know what I do for a living, but then I would not post business stuff; I would post life stuff. I drop the little goats off at the vet, come back an hour later, and they’re like, “Three people came in today and asked if these are Mortgage Monica’s goats.” They had built that connection between…

Drew McLellan:

Isn’t that fascinating?

Monica Parkin:

It’s so cool, and that was when that little light bulb went on. I was like, “Holy crap, maybe this authenticity thing, maybe there’s something to this,” you know?

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, yeah. So much about this is just about being comfortable in your own skin, isn’t it?

Monica Parkin:

Yeah, and the other thing is, when we talk about feeling awkward or being awkward, if we’re going to an event or we’re talking to someone and we’re trying to be someone we’re not, we’ve got all of these windows open in the background. We’re essentially telling a lie, full time, and we’re trying to remember the details of the lie, because when you’re telling a lie, you’re trying to keep it going. It’s like a computer with all of these windows open. You can’t actually focus on having a real conversation because you’re focusing on trying to be perfect.

Drew McLellan:

All of the details, right.

Monica Parkin:

Yeah, and if you throw all of that crap out and you just be you, then you can actually do what we’re doing right now and have a real conversation. That’s where you build relationships, and those relationships lead to business.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and that’s true for extroverts too. I mean, when you come across and you’re all businesslike and you’re driving right to the sale and you’re not creating that connection, I don’t know that that’s an introvert versus extrovert thing; I just think that’s a human thing, that we want some connection with people we talk to, even if it’s light. We just want to have something that feels real before we get into the work.

Monica Parkin:

What you’re referring to, I refer to it as hunter versus farmer.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, tell me about that.

Monica Parkin:

When you’re a hunter, you’re going to get out there. You’re going to get your dinner tonight. You’re going to make that sale. You’re going to close it at any cost, and yeah, you’re going to eat tonight, but are you going to eat the next week and the next week and the next week? Because if you’re raiding every henhouse in the town, eventually you’re going to run out of things, whereas if you’re the farmer, you’re planting seeds. Maybe you don’t grow as fast in the beginning, but eventually you’re going to wake up, and you don’t actually have to work that hard. Those relationships just have built themselves, and you’ve got that repeat clientele that comes back again and again.

Drew McLellan:

I am a self-proclaimed extrovert, so I ask this question out of ignorance. Why do you think the world has decided that extroversion, and the way extroverts behave, is the norm, as opposed to recognizing that how introverts do it works just as well?

Monica Parkin:

Yeah, and recognizing how well they work together, because that’s what the science says. When you have half extroverts, half introverts in your company, you’re going to do phenomenally better than one or the other. They really work well together, but I suspect it’s just a loudest voice in the room thing.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Yeah, maybe.

Monica Parkin:

It’s, you’re the loudest voice, you get heard, and that old stereotype that the introvert can’t articulate their thoughts or that they’re sitting in the corner and they’re shaking and they’re scared, but it’s just that they’re not good in that environment. You get them into a different environment, a small group, a committee, a one-on-one relationship, and that’s where they really can dig deep and thrive.

Drew McLellan:

People listening own agencies or are leading or running agencies. Inside their staff, obviously they probably have a mix of introverts and extroverts. One of the things I think is interesting is the idea of, if you’re an extrovert boss, how do you learn how to relate to and make an introvert employee or peer comfortable so that you can create that connection? What has to happen from across the table?

Monica Parkin:

I think it’s creating that space where people feel safe to be their authentic selves, like to be themselves, because when you’ve got people on your team that feel like they can really be them, really talk about the things they’re passionate about, really dig into problems, then that’s when you’re going to see that… production isn’t the right word, but you’re going to get good stuff out of them. If they’re in an environment where they feel like they can be themselves, there’s an expectation that you have to act like this extrovert or you have to be this person, then you’re not going to get all of the best out of them, and to put them in places where they’re going to thrive best. Put them in the small team or put them on the problem, because they love to solve problems, and maybe put your extroverts out at that networking event. Know where to use your resources, and they are resources, extroverts and introverts. Both phenomenal resources, yeah.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Is there a different way that you approach conversations as an extrovert approaching an introvert, or to make a conversation more comfortable for someone?

Monica Parkin:

Yeah. What I’ve heard time and time again from introverts is they hate small talk. Skip the fricking small talk. Don’t ask about the weather, and “How was your day?”

Drew McLellan:

Really?

Monica Parkin:

They just hate it. It makes them awkward. It makes them uncomfortable. They don’t know what to do with it. Go straight to the good stuff.