Woman of Influence: Susan Cain

UPDATED: May 22, 2024
PUBLISHED: August 17, 2020
Woman of Influence: Susan Cain

As told by Kindra Hall

Best-selling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and founder of Quiet Revolution

The first book I ever wrote was called Peggy Meets Eggy. It was three pieces of loose-leaf paper stapled together and I was about 4 years old. Then when I was a little older, I started a magazine and I sold subscriptions to my family members. Even at a young age, and beyond the writing itself, there was something about the writer’s life that felt like such a strong sense of destiny.

But when I was a few years older, my father took me aside and assured me that while it’s a nice romantic dream to be a writer, it won’t be so romantic when you’re grown and can’t pay the bills, So I took a 15-year detour and practiced law instead. And I was pretty ambitious about it, pretty engaged in it and I really liked the firm where I practiced. But I used to live in Greenwich Village in Manhattan across the street from the Barnes & Noble, and I would often go there late at night after work. And one night I found this book called Do What You Are. It was a book that had you take the Myers-Briggs personality test and match your type to your ideal career. All of the careers that are mapped to my type were things like social worker, psychologist, clergy person and… writer. 

Then came the year that I was up for partner at the law firm. They came and told me that I wasn’t going to make partner. I remember I was really upset, but I asked for a leave of absence, I left the firm three hours later and I never went back. A week later I signed up for a creative nonfiction writing at NYU. 

I sat in that classroom on the very first night of class and I remember so distinctly where I was sitting, right in the middle of the 12-desk horseshoe arrangement, and thinking, “Okay, I found my home. This is where I’m supposed to be. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. I will never be able to make a living at this, but I’m organizing my whole life around it.” And I have.

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This article originally appeared in the September/October 2020 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
Photo courtesy of Susan Cain

Kindra Hall

Kindra Hall is the bestselling author of Stories That Stick and a sought-after keynote speaker. She is the president of Steller Collective, a marketing agency focused on the power of storytelling to overcome communication challenges.