Susan Horowitz Cain[7] (born 1968) is an American writer and lecturer.

Susan Cain
Portrait of Susan Cain
BornSusan Horowitz Cain
(1968-03-20) March 20, 1968 (age 55)[better source needed]
OccupationWriter, former lawyer and negotiations consultant[2]
Alma materPrinceton University (A.B.)[3][4]
Harvard Law School (J.D.)[5][6]
GenreSuccess, Management, Education, Psychology, Self-Help, Interpersonal Relations
Notable worksQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (January 24, 2012); Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts (2016); Quiet Journal: Discover Your Secret Strengths and Unleash Your Inner Power (2020); Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole (2022)

She is the author of the 2012 non-fiction book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, which argues that modern Western culture misunderstands and undervalues the traits and capabilities of introverted people. In 2015, she co-founded Quiet Revolution, a mission-based company with initiatives in the areas of children (parenting and education), lifestyle, and the workplace. Her 2016 follow-on book, Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, focused on introverted children and teens, the book also being directed to their educators and parents.

Her book Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole (2022) focused on accepting feelings of sorrow and longing as inspiration to experience sublime emotions—such as beauty and wonder and transcendence—to counterbalance the "normative sunshine" of society's pressure to constantly be positive.[8]

Early years and education edit

Cain is the youngest of three children, and was raised in Lawrence, Nassau County, New York.[9] She graduated with an A.B. in English from Princeton University in 1989[3] after completing a 91-page-long senior thesis titled "A Study of Thomas Stearns Eliot and Wyndham Lewis."[10] She earned a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1993.[6]

Career edit

Cain worked for seven years as an attorney at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton,[11] and then as a negotiations consultant[2] as owner and principal of The Negotiation Company.[12] She has been a fellow and a faculty/staff member of the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, an educational non-profit organization.[12]

She left her careers in corporate law and consulting for a quieter life of writing at home with her family,[13] likening her years as a Wall Street lawyer to "time spent in a foreign country".[14]

Background and motivation for Quiet edit

Cain explained that if she were not a writer she would want to be a research psychologist.[15] Her interest in writing about introversion reportedly stemmed from her own difficulties with public speaking, which made Harvard Law School "a trial".[13]

While still an attorney, Cain noticed that others at her firm were putting personality traits like hers to good use in the profession, and that gender per se did not explain those traits.[16] She eventually realized that the concepts of introversion and extroversion provided the "language for talking about questions of identity" that had been lacking.[16]

She explained that in writing Quiet she was fueled by the passion and indignation that she imagined fueled the 1963 feminist book, The Feminine Mystique.[15] She likened introverts today to women at that time—second-class citizens with gigantic amounts of untapped talent.[15] Saying that most introverts aren't aware of how they are constantly spending their time in ways that they would prefer not to be and have been doing so all their lives, Cain explained that she was trying to give people entitlement in their own minds to be who they are.[17]

She said she was interested in working with parents and teachers of introverted children and to re-shape workplace culture and design, and in particular replace what she terms "The New Groupthink" with an environment more conducive to deep thought and solo reflection.[15]

Quiet, Quiet Power, and Quiet Journal edit

Cain speaking at the TED2012 conference ("not my natural milieu") with a prop suitcase,[18][19] which was said to be a metaphor for the treasures, memories, activities and thoughts that make you you.[20] Cain's own suitcase contained books.[18][19]

Cain, a self-described[21] introvert, had grappled with her own introversion as a Wall Street attorney before writing Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.[14] In contrast, she described the time of creating Quiet—seven years of reading, researching, and thinking—as "total bliss".[18][19] Initially concerned that the book would be merely a "highly idiosyncratic project", she found instead that New York book publishers engaged in a bidding war.[11] Quiet was published January 24, 2012.[22]

Cain wrote that her year of preparation before her February 2012 TED talk had unfolded in "three stages of accelerating dread",[23] so she joined Toastmasters and scheduled a two-hour crash course with TED's speaking coach.[23] But saying her butterflies had turned into "gut-wrenching knots", she worked for six full days with an acting coach immediately before the talk.[23] Three months after the talk, Cain confirmed her April 2011 prediction that the ensuing year would be her Year of Speaking Dangerously,[24] writing that she had metamorphosed into what she termed an "impossibly oxymoronic creature: the Public Introvert".[23] The Atlantic's Megan Garber remarked that the ideas spread by TED are becoming defined by the persona of the speaker who presents them, citing Cain in particular as representing the idea of the power of introversion in an extrovert-optimized world.[25] Chris Weller quipped in Business Insider that Cain had become "the patron saint of introverts".[26]

Within one week of its publication, Forbes' Jenna Goudreau noted that Quiet was featured by several major media outlets and was shared extensively across the Web, Goudreau observing that readers said they felt validated and seen for the first time.[27] Cain spoke at leadership, management, training and education conferences throughout the U.S. and internationally.[28] By 2015 she had delivered more than 100 speeches, sometimes receiving five figures per appearance, in addition to her pro bono work.[9] InformationWeek's Debra Donston-Miller had noted that the idea of introversion and extroversion was being widely discussed due in large part to media coverage of Quiet.[29]

     There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas—I mean zero.

Susan Cain, First TED talk, 2012.[19]

Within a year of her first TED talk, Cain had formed an online public speaking and communication class for introverts, said to emphasize authenticity over showmanship.[30]

She collaborates with Steelcase to design office spaces to include quiet areas where workers can have privacy for a time, in contrast to open plan offices.[26][31]

In 2016, Cain co-authored Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, which focused on introverted children and teens, the book also directed to their educators and parents.[32]

In 2018, she began co-curating the Next Big Idea Club with Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, and Daniel Pink, focusing on books about psychology, business, happiness, and productivity.[33]

On March 31, 2020, Cain published Quiet Journal: Discover Your Secret Strengths and Unleash Your Inner Power, a journal with a first section directed to self-assessment, and a second section for applying that self-knowledge and prompting action.[34]

The Quiet Revolution edit

Cain's second TED talk (2014) formally announced the Quiet Revolution—a "venture backed, mission-based" organization for transforming office architecture to combat the erosion of focus and privacy in modern offices, forming a Quiet Leadership Institute to help organizations train introverted leaders, and empowering quiet children.[26][35] The organization focuses on areas including children, life, and the workplace, while providing training programs and learning tools for client organizations to use in managing employees.[36] More specifically, the organization formed an online education course for parents, a co-branded lifestyle section in The Huffington Post, a podcast, a website to support a community including writers and advocates, and young-adult books and shows whose heroines are quiet leaders.[9] Quiet Revolution implemented a Quiet Ambassador initiative, for which it trained volunteers to be embedded in schools, businesses and other participating organizations.[11]

Bittersweet edit

     I’ve concluded that bittersweetness is not, as we tend to think, just a momentary feeling or event. It’s also a quiet force, a way of being, a storied tradition—as dramatically overlooked as it is brimming with human potential. It’s an authentic and elevating response to the problem of being alive in a deeply flawed yet stubbornly beautiful world.

Bittersweet at pp. xxii-xxiv[37]

Cain's third TED talk (2019), "The hidden power of sad songs and rainy days", preceded her April 5, 2022 book, Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole.[8] The book's theme is to accept feelings of sorrow and longing as inspiration to experience sublime emotions—such as beauty and wonder and transcendence—to counterbalance the "normative sunshine" of society's pressure to constantly be positive.[8]

Awards and achievements edit

  • 2012, February: Quiet reached No. 4 on The New York Times Best Seller list (hardcover non-fiction category).[38]
  • 2012: Cain's first TED talk video received its first million views faster than any other TED video,[39] and within nine months had entered the 98th percentile (20th of 1380 videos) of most viewed TED videos of all time.[40]
  • 2012, July: Nathan Heller's Culture Desk piece in The New Yorker listed Cain's talk among five key TED Talks exemplifying the appeal of that lecture series, citing her presentation of a counterintuitive data-based argument as a miniature theatre piece.[41]
  • 2012, November: Cain was featured in the PBS-AOL Makers video initiative for recognizing trailblazing women.[42]
  • 2012, December: Quiet was named in numerous "Best of 2012" book lists.[4]
  • 2012, December: Cain was named one of five top Princeton alumni newsmakers for 2012.[4]
  • 2013, February: Harvard Business Review's Mitch Joel listed Cain's TED Talk among "10 TED Talks to Help You Reimagine Your Business".[43]
  • 2013, April: Toastmasters International named Cain recipient of its 2013 "Golden Gavel Award", given annually to an individual distinguished in the fields of communication and leadership.[44]
  • 2013, September: Cain received Harvard Law School's "Celebration 60" Award.[45]
  • 2014, March: Cain was one of the "TED All-Stars", with Cain presenting for a second time at TED's thirtieth anniversary conference.[46]
  • 2014, May: Cain was listed in Inc. magazine as being among the 50 most influential leadership and management experts.[47]
  • 2015, Quiet had sold more than two million copies worldwide[26]
  • 2016, May: Quiet Power started at #4 on The New York Times Best Seller list (children's middle grade hardcover category).[48]
  • 2018, November: Cain was included in LinkedIn's 20 "Top Voices" of 2018, a list of "influencers driving global business conversation".[49]
  • 2022, April: The New York Times listed Bittersweet as #1 bestseller in both "Hardcover Nonfiction" and "Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction" categories.[50]
  • 2023, February: Oprah Winfrey selected Bittersweet as her 99th Oprah's Book Club pick.[51][52]
  • 2024, January: "A Quiet Life in 7 Steps" was #5, then #3, audiobook on Amazon Audible.[53][54]

Selected work edit

References edit

  1. ^ Huffington, Arianna (interviewer), "Arianna Huffington And Susan Cain On The Power Of Introverts (video)" (archive), Arianna Huffington's personal interview with Cain, The Huffington Post, April 6, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Levy, Steven, "TED and Meta TED: On-Scene Musings From the Wonderdome" (archive), Wired, March 2, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Greenwood, Katherine Federici, "Reading Room: The power of introverts" (archive), Princeton Alumni Weekly, March 7, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Tomlinson, Brett, "The Year at Princeton: Top five alumni newsmakers" (archive), Princeton Alumni Weekly, December 19, 2012.
  5. ^ Inge, David (interviewer), "Interview Archives: Communication / Quiet: The Power of ..." (archive), WILL AM580 Illinois Public Media, March 12, 2012
  6. ^ a b Szalavitz, Maia, "'Mind Reading': Q&A with Susan Cain on the Power of Introverts" (archive), Time Healthland, January 27, 2012.
  7. ^ Women Transforming Our Communities and the World, Harvard Law School "Leaders for Change" (conference Program of Events), Sept. 27–29, 2013, bottom of p. 13.
  8. ^ a b c Cain, Susan (speaker); Kym, Min (musician) (July 2019). "The hidden power of sad songs and rainy days".
  9. ^ a b c Holson, Laura M. (July 25, 2015). "Susan Cain Instigates A 'Quiet Revolution' of Introverts With Speeches and Company". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 3, 2022.
  10. ^ Horowitz, Susan Tamar (1989). "A Study of Thomas Stearns Eliot and Wyndham Lewis". Princeton University. Archived from the original on June 12, 2022.
  11. ^ a b c Gibson, Lydialyle (March–April 2017). "Quiet, Please - Susan Cain foments the 'Quiet Revolution'". Harvard Magazine. Archived from the original on February 17, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Education/Fellows" (archive) and "Staff/Faculty" (archive) of The Woodhull Institute.
  13. ^ a b Warner, Judith, Inside Intelligence: "Susan Cain’s ‘Quiet’ Argues for the Power of Introverts" (archive), The New York Times Sunday book review, published Friday February 10, 2012. ● Cain's same-day reply to Warner's review (archive),, February 10, 2012.
  14. ^ a b "The quiet strength of the introvert" (archive), The Chicago Tribune, February 20, 2010.
  15. ^ a b c d Glor, Jeff (interviewer), "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain" (archive), CBS News authorTALK, January 26, 2012.
  16. ^ a b Ronson, Jon (RSA interviewer), "Susan Cain and Jon Ronson on The Power of Introverts" (archive), Australian Broadcasting Corporation "Big Ideas", audio and video published June 4, 2012.
  17. ^ Bielski, Zosia, "Giving introverts permission to be themselves" (archive), The Globe and Mail, January 26, 2012.
  18. ^ a b c "An introverted call to action: Susan Cain at TED2012" (archive), (Technology Entertainment Design) website, February 28, 2012.
  19. ^ a b c d "Susan Cain: The power of introverts" (archive), video posted to official "TEDtalksDirector" YouTube channel on March 2, 2012. ● Same video (archive) on the website. ● TED video transcript and archive thereof.
  20. ^ Brodsky, Matthew, "Stop the Groupthink Madness" (archive), Wharton Magazine, April 16, 2012 publication re Cain's April 9 talk.
  21. ^ TED speakers profile "Susan Cain: Quiet revolutionary" (archive),, probably published circa February 2012 for Cain's February 28, 2012 talk.
  22. ^ "Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking", entry for ISBN 0-307-35214-5.
  23. ^ a b c d Cain, Susan, Essay: "An Introvert Steps Out" (archive), "Sunday Book Review" section of The New York Times, published online April 27, 2012. Version appeared in print on page BR27 of the "Sunday Book Review" on April 29, 2012.
  24. ^ Cain, Susan, "The Best Public Speaking Advice I've Ever Gotten..." (archive), Psychology Today, April 25, 2011.
  25. ^ Garber, Megan, "How TED Makes Ideas Smaller" (archive), "Technology" section of The Atlantic, March 6, 2012.
  26. ^ a b c d Weller, Chris, “How the patron saint of introverts is quietly revolutionising American culture” (Archived September 11, 2015, at the Wayback Machine), Business Insider (Australia), August 25, 2015.
  27. ^ Goudreau, Jenna, "So Begins A Quiet Revolution Of The 50 Percent" (archive), Forbes, January 30, 2012.
  28. ^ Geographically distributed examples: archives of conference listings of "The Art of Leadership" (Toronto and Calgary), "Innotown" (Alesund, Norway) "World Domination Summit" (Portland, Oregon), "Inbound" (Boston), Society of Actuaries (Washington, D.C.), "Learning2012" (Orlando), "Ciudad de las Ideas" ("City of Ideas") (Puebla, Mexico), Bishop's University (Quebec), University of California, Santa Barbara.
  29. ^ Donston-Miller, Debra, "Social Business: What's An Introvert To Do?" (archive), InformationWeek, February 9, 2012.
  30. ^ Baer, Drake, "Susan Cain Helped Introverts Find Their Voice; Now, She'll Teach Them To Embrace Public Speaking" (archive), Fast Company, January 29, 2013.
  31. ^ Schwartz, Ariel, "Remaking Open Offices So Introverts Don't Hate Them" (archive), Fast Company (, March 26, 2014.
  32. ^ Nadworny, Elissa (February 18, 2016). "How Parents And Teachers Can Nurture The 'Quiet Power' Of Introverts". NPR (National Public Radio). Archived from the original on April 18, 2016.
  33. ^ Chen, Connie (May 14, 2018). "This book subscription curated by popular nonfiction authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Susan Cain lets you discover the 'next big idea' before everyone else". Business Insider. Archived from the original on May 14, 2018.
  34. ^ "Quiet Journal: Discover Your Secret Strengths and Unleash Your Inner Power". Goodreads. April 2020. Archived from the original on April 7, 2020.
  35. ^ Cain, Susan (speaker), "Susan Cain's 2014 TED Talk | Announcing the Quiet Revolution" (archive), textual transcript of TED talk published March 29, 2014.
  36. ^ Sellers, Patricia (June 3, 2015). "The secret power of introverts". Fortune. Archived from the original on June 3, 2015. Article entitled "Soft Power" in the June 15, 2015 print edition.
  37. ^ Spike, Carlett (April 2022). "Susan Cain '89 on the Undiscovered Value of Bittersweet Thinking". Princeton Alumni Weekly. Archived from the original on April 26, 2022.
  38. ^ The New York Times Best Seller list for February 12, 2012 Hardcover Non-Fiction. (archive).
  39. ^ Morais, Richard C., "In Praise of Introverts and Depressives" (archive), Barron's, April 3, 2012.
  40. ^ TED talks (sorted by) Most viewed (earliest archive (2014)),, November 8, 2012.
  41. ^ Heller, Nathan, "Five Key TED Talks" (archive), The New Yorker, July 2, 2012.
  42. ^ Susan Cain | Makers Profile | Writer (archive),, posted on or before archive date of 2012-11-20; planned PBS television series premiere February 26, 2013.
  43. ^ Joel, Mitch, "10 TED Talks to Help You Reimagine Your Business" (archive), Harvard Business Review, February 27, 2013.
  44. ^ "2013 International Convention | Golden Gavel Award" (archive), and (archive with dropdown list), Toastmasters International, April 2013.
  45. ^ [≈ Leaders for Change] (archive), Harvard Law School, September 27–29, 2013, page 13 ("7pm-9pm") lists recipients. • Books News Desk staff, "QUIET Author Susan Cain Receives Harvard Law School's 'Celebration 60' Award" (archive), Broadway World, October 8, 2013.
  46. ^ May, Kate Torgovnick, "Introducing the TED All-Stars: 50+ speakers who’ll return to the stage at TED2014" (archive), TED, March 10, 2014.
  47. ^ Haden, Jeff, "Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts" (archive), Inc. May 12, 2014.
  48. ^ "Best Sellers / Children's Middle Grade Hardcover". The New York Times. May 22, 2016. Archived from the original on January 27, 2017.
  49. ^ Roth, Daniel (November 13, 2018). "LinkedIn Top Voices 2018: Influencers". LinkedIn. Archived from the original on November 13, 2018.
  50. ^ "The New York Times Best Sellers". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 14, 2022. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  51. ^ "Oprah chooses "Bittersweet" by Susan Cain as new book club pick - CBS News". February 15, 2023. Archived from the original on February 15, 2023.
  52. ^ Lang, Brent (March 29, 2023). "Susan Cain's Bestseller 'Bittersweet' Getting Adapted for Stage (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Archived from the original on March 29, 2023.
  53. ^ "US Audiobooks Top 10 / The top 10 audiobooks on Audible". ABC News. The Associated Press. January 30, 2024. Archived from the original on February 1, 2024.
  54. ^ "US-Audiobooks-Top-10". San Francisco Chronicle. The Associated Press. February 13, 2024. Archived from the original on February 15, 2024.

External links edit