“This is not in my nature,” I heard myself saying as I climbed the four stairs to sit before the audience, as well as expose myself and my words to the Internet audience.
At this weekend’s Podcamp Boston 2 at the Boston Convention Center, I came face to face with my face and my shyness. After decades of hiding behind a notebook or still camera as a reporter and writer, interviewing the arrogant, the honored, the famous, and those simply ensnared in events around them, sitting before dozens of fellow geeks is a breakthrough of sorts for me.
Not long before, I was again at a Steve Garfield session. He’s left in an image from his main site. He’s the god of Rocketboom and surely the most successful and noted videoblogger anywhere. He makes a living out of what many thousands of others can barely do for free with all they have to bring to bear.
I’ve known Steve through several of my selves. That includes as a political blogger at Marry in Massachusetts and as an audio podcaster at Left Ahead! I also been through several caffeine and pastry fueled Boston Media Makers meetings where we share, swap and support in downtown JP at Sweet Finnish.
He is that out-there guy. Typically, his vlogs start with him filming his loooong and charmingly smiling face at the start, somewhere in the middle and near the end. He is an inspiration to us introverts and he knows that about me is not a bad phrase.
A couple of decades ago, I was coming on as chair of a large downtown church’s board when we had a Myers-Briggs personality exercise at a retreat when we prepared to replace the senior minister. The interim minister and I were paired to discuss our test results. He had been preaching for about 50 years and had a commanding pulpit presence. I had been a reporter, editor, tech writer and documentation manager.
I was and have always retested as an INTP. He also was strongly I. That letter means introvert on the introvert/extrovert spectrum. Both of us were pretty far on the extreme of I. Both of us knew that was true personally but were flabbergasted that it was for the other guy.
As it turns out, he was a great counselor (with a masters in that on top of his doctorate in divinity), but he hated the preaching. The congregants loved his booming, confident oratory, while he was shaking and insecure in his robes.
As surprised as I was to look at his letters, he demanded to know how I could have presented myself to and grilled the famous, infamous and ordinary if I took was introverted. My answer was similar to his, it was part of the job, my least favorite part, but essential. I did what I had to do. I recalled to him how I used to shingle roofs as part of my summer job as a carpenter’s helper on a house-building crew. I hated heights, but it was part of the job to lean 40 feet above the ground thumping roofing nails.
Business School Recollection
When I went back to college for a business degree, I had problems with only one course — communications. Of course that was ironic for a journalism school guy who had communicated for a living for a long time. It didn’t surprise the professor, who had seen a lot of us who communicate at a high level, so long as we had the shield of a clipboard, notebook or PowerPoint presentation.
A big part of the course was to stand before her and the other 25 adult students for three minutes once a week, delivering a surprise topic presentation cold with no props, no podium, no computer, nada. We left class with scribbled anonymous notes from the class as a review. There were guys who mindlessly jingled keys and change, and women who mumbled as they played with their hair. I, on the other hand, stood out for two traits — solid material and impassive visage. A typical note I got read, “Great content! For God’s sake, MOVE!”
I got better, but it took the bluntness of peers to make me realize how much and how long I had compensated. I was as bold as anyone, so long as I was protected with paper or other props. I’ve gotten better with the knowledge that I had lived decades covering up my introversion, not changing it.
The New Media Personality
Steve has no such shortcoming. While the vast majority of us geeks at the podcamp were shy sorts, some of the vloggers were not. Jonny Goldstein decided joined Steve in the extroversion world.
At his life talk show at the podcamp, Jonny (shown left in an image from his site) was shameless and good. He has stocked the audience with a few shills, so that he could have guests on his show on the dais. Several other extroverts jumped up to say what they were doing in the internet world and what they had gotten from the sessions so far.
After Steve’s session and from the Sweet Finnish meetings, I still carry the guilt of being only an audio podcaster, not also a video one. That doesn’t bother Steve or the others at the JP meet ups, but it bothers me. I’m the alpha geek in my crowds and I’m not on the edge in this end of the technologies.
Probably as a result, when the shills and showoffs had come and climbed down, a long pause came as he called repeatedly for another talk-show guest. I felt compelled to go.
I did and it wasn’t terrible and not worse than anyone who had gone before. For me though, it was a long way from my seat perhaps 25 feet to the dais.
I think I can do this again.