Today, I’m talking to Ana Bibikova, a defender and cheerleader for introverts in entrepreneurship. Ana knows what it means to be skeptical of loud and salesy marketing tactics. They might work great for extroverts, but not so much for the quiet types. Today, we’ll talk about how you can build a public-facing brand without resorting to all the obnoxious and much-too in-your-face tactics. We’ll talk about being introverted, working with introverts, and serving introverts. Here’s Ana.
Arvid Kahl 00:00
Hello everyone and welcome to the Bootstrapped Founder Podcast. Today, I’m talking to Ana Bibikova, a defender and cheerleader for introverts and entrepreneurship. Ana knows what it means to be skeptical of those loud and salesy marketing tactics you find everywhere. Those might work great for extroverts, but not so much for the quiet types.
Today, we’ll talk about how you can build a public facing brand without resorting to all these obnoxious and much too in your face kind of tactics. We’ll talk about being introverted, working with introverts and serving introverts. Here’s Ana.
One thing that I’m super interested in that really jumped at me from the start when I was looking at your work, who is Nigel The Introvert? Tell me more about Nigel. What’s going on with that?
Ana Bibikova 00:47
All right. All right. So there is quite an interesting story behind it. You know, I’ve been very introverted all my life. And obviously, it’s not something that you can change in yourself. There is a question of is it more nature or nurture? There is not kind of general agreement, like it’s 100% nature. But what science actually tells us that in most cases, maybe 50% of temperament is inherited from your parents. It can be either parent, like mom or dad, doesn’t matter. Obviously, it can be changed throughout the years based on your actual, the environment that you grew in.
But if we look at the twins, especially the fraternal twins, that the one that shared this pace in their mom’s body, then they would have different, that they will have the same level of introversion versus extraversion. Where non fraternal twins can have different levels of being happy, and being able to recharge their social batteries, and the group versus being able to recharge it while being alone.
So yes, and I’ve been introverted since I was little, and I knew it about myself. I just didn’t know that it was called introversion. I was just feeling that I’m kind of secluded, very happy to be alone, the best time when, when I was asked, what is your kind of dream day? How would you like to spend your time and being able to choose anything you want? I would say, I said home reading.
So that was my, the best thing I could think of. And my parents, they constantly tried to push me out of my cell, telling me that it’s not something that a teenager or a child should do that I should go out there and make more friends. I’ll be missing out on so many opportunities in my life if I don’t learn how to network and socialize. And most probably what every parent used to tell their kids like, always study years ago. It was considered to be like, at social standard to be outgoing, and try to learn social skills. I’m not saying that it was the best thing to do, like teaching me some social skills.
But the bad thing was to actually push me out there without explaining how I should do it. And because my parents were not, they are mostly extroverted, I would say. I’m not sure how I picked it up from in my family. But we have this kind of misunderstanding. Because we’re on totally different pages. And on top of everything, I felt constantly betrayed, you know. Like, as a child, the same people who are supposed to protect me, they were trying to push me out there to the world and make me face a threat, something that I felt very uncomfortable with.
And I made this promise to myself that I would never do it to my own children. When I grow up, and I have children, I will and they end up being like me. I told myself when I was, I don’t know, 10 or 12 years old, I would never try to make them go out there and make more friends if they don’t want to do it. If they want to spend their time reading books, playing computer games, or do whatever they want, I will let them do it. And so obviously, when I had children, my elder one turned out to be very introverted.
And on one hand, I had this kind of promise to myself and on the other to have the parental responsibility to actually teach my child how to deal with this temperament, with this way of thinking about the world. And obviously, I ended up agreeing with my parents that going and making friends is a good thing. And if you don’t, if you don’t interact, if you don’t socialize, you, indeed will miss out on so many things. And you will not see the world in its beauty, right? So you will have very tunnel vision, very limited experience, something that’s limited to your own experience, to things that you’re able to see with your own eyes. Being actually a well developed person means being able to look at one thing from different angles, and you will never be able to do it if you don’t interact with other people.
And especially because I had this experience growing up in India, meeting with people from absolutely different cultures, something that I would never meet while growing up in Europe, for example. And I ended up realizing how valuable this diversity and experience actually is. So I have this other goal, like on this scale, two things on the scale. On different sides of it being like a responsible parent and actually teaching my child the beauty of interaction, the beauty of socializing. And on the other hand, now wanting them to be threatened, and laughed and pushed somewhere. I was thinking of how I can frame it in something more digestible. How can I teach my child? How can I even convey my own feelings about it?
Because as an introvert, I have troubles with this. I can’t tell exactly what I feel. It’s not very easy to convey my inner emotions and my inner world to other people. So yeah, and that’s how I came up with the idea of imaginary character. Because if you’re talking about not yourself, but someone imaginary, it’s not me, it’s a cat. That’s what the cat feels. It’s been much easier to explain things that are happening in my own head.
And I started reading a lot on this topic, started, like listening to podcasts and reading too. I get interested in this neurological stuff for years now, especially when I was running my retail business. I was very curious how I could do the boosting sales in revenue without opening up new shops and new stores every single month. So how can I actually improve the efficiency of the existing locations? And if there is a way to do it, like put smiles on cars, or colors or stuff like that. And I started reading books on behavioral economics and neurological studies.
But I’ve never actually connected this with my own nature of being an introvert. And well, while facing this problem and decided. When I decided to create this introvert Nigel character, I started reading books of introverts on introversion as well. And yeah, that’s how it all ended up. I started, draw. I’m not an artist. I don’t know how to draw. So my own ended up very primitive.
But that wasn’t the point, right? We just actually use this cats as a reason to start the conversation. Basically, we sat through the weekend, allocated maybe two or three hours to draw everything. And then every single day, like, as a part of our, I don’t know, you can call it family therapy. Before dinner was served, we sat and studied this conversation about introversion, and how I look at it. What does my child see and feel while looking at this picture? So yeah, I tried to make it more or less entertaining.
But on the other hand, it was very important for me to be passionate about it as well. So if I went down there, like primitivization, making it more, simplifying all the ideas to make it more digestible for a child, I would never last for more than maybe a couple of weeks, right? Because as an introvert, I feel every conversation should be meaningful. If it’s not meaningful, I don’t want to be a part of it.
I think it was quite well for several months down. It was you know, like summer vacation and stuff like that. And everyone, everything was messed up. I think I’ll get back to this project, maybe n the nearest future.
Arvid Kahl 10:13
It’s a wonderful project. I really resonate with it too, because I, like you, grew up being introverted without knowing what it is. I think that’s one of the biggest problems that almost, I think all the introverts I know, face. That they don’t have the vocabulary for it. Or if they have it, it’s always tainted in a very negative way, right?
You’re not called introvert, you’re called secluded, or shy, or isolated. There’s always something
Antisocial about it. That’s exactly what it is. It feels like people think that like meaningful participant in a society, you need to be extroverted, as if diversity was not an option, right? It’s such a weird thing. And in seeing Nigel and in seeing the topics of this, so simplified, or maybe essentialist is a better word, right? You’ve kind of reduced it, boil it down to the essence of what it is about. I think you’re actually helping a lot of people, much older than your kids, just coming to understand the basic concepts of their own nature. Because I also feel it’s been something that in my family, I was more introverted than anybody else.
And it may not seem like this now that I have this public persona, or that I am a public person, it’s always kind of hard to juggle these two. But that’s another thing I really wanted to talk to you about because I feel introversion is already on a spectrum, right? You have the whole supposed spectrum between fallout extrovert and fallout introvert.
And then beyond that there are almost illnesses like mental states that are determined to be like way too introverted to be in the spectrum of normal and way too extroverted on the other side. You have this behavioral disorders, I guess, is what you would call it. And I feel like my introversion is not a general introversion. It’s just kinda hard to describe, but I only feel introverted for things that I don’t care about. I don’t know if that makes sense. If that is an act makes
Ana Bibikova 12:27
It makes sense. That’s actually the basic characteristics of introverts.
We happen to be meaningful, otherwise, we don’t care about this stuff. Otherwise, it’s just an energy drainer. But actually when I think about it, there is a very good logical explanation for how we used to feel when we’re children, and it hasn’t actually changed maybe 100%. Because, you know, throughout the history, quiet people have never been the outcast, right? They’re the ones who are expected to hide their quiet demeanor. Because quiet, thoughtful, introverted, less engaged, even reclusive, these people who possess all these qualities, they were considered wise, maybe like privy to some secret knowledge.
And then something happened. Some people believe that it was, you know, like kind of Western versus Eastern culture fight. Other blame the rise of psychoanalysis and self help literature. But if we think about it, it was actually all due to technological change. It all comes down to the Industrial Revolution, and the resulting change in the social structure. When people stopped living in this small, cozy familiar societies, where they didn’t have to prove who they were every single day, where they moved to big cities to work on giant, you know, faceless factories, and live in their all similar cell-like, apartments where everyone knew no one.
And the sum of big industrial production implies a new type of social structure where horizontal links, and the society had to be rebuilt over and over again, because every single day you ended up in a new big group of people you knew nothing about. And plus, if we add the destruction of all familiar traditional links in the big families between you know faraway siblings who are even located in different cities, it all led to the rise of this shouty leadership type. And you know, how they say that sometimes you have to run just to stay on one place. Well, in this case, with the Industrial Revolution, the society ended up being structured in a way where everyone had to yell to be heard. Even as if they were talking about the whisper level.
And so for extroverts, they speak, outgoing and shouty, always available, always visible, it came naturally. But for quiet types, it turns out to be a nightmare. And because we’re not actually antisocial, right? We will all still want to be a part of a pack. We’re still humans. We had to play this game anyway. Because otherwise, we were kind of excluded from the society. And if we think about it, again, it impacted a lot our understanding how like businesses should be built, how marketing should be made, how an entrepreneurship worked, in general. Because entrepreneurship and marketing in a narrow sense, it’s just a part of our general worldview systems, right?
And if we consider that yelling is a new standard, it’s normal, you have to be very loud and shouty to be a part of the group. Then it comes as no surprise that efficient marketing strategies were the ones that are very shouty and pitchy and salesy, like sending 100 cold emails, just when one customer deal, it’s a great job. Who cares that this customer will churn next month? You still did a great job because you send out 100 cold emails, or like using all their possible hacky ways to get to customers. That’s great. Where do I hire this person? Because nothing was considered, like illegal when it came down to being shouty, and pitchy and being efficient in this sense, being visible, right?
And, again, let’s be honest, because we were considered to be horrible leaders, like by both sides. We ourselves, consider ourselves to be horrible leaders, because we grew up with this impression that true leadership is about being loud, being visible, being salesy, being tough. And if you don’t satisfy these high standards, then you can’t be a proper leader. So we never even try to get up there. We weren’t considered like, because we never went up there, or we did not set the rules. We didn’t have this chance to set the rules.
And while that lasted for many, many years, bound something different happened again. And again, it all went down to the technological change, because the tech was built that made this online interaction available to everyone that disrupted and basically demolish the entrance barriers, right? Like 20, 25 years ago, to build your own business, you had to apply for a loan in the bank, or you had to pitch your project to investors. And you have to be very convincing, showing that you are a brilliant salesperson, that you will be able to sell snow to snowman in winter. It was the only way to build a business, to get access to money and to be visible. Now, it’s totally different.
Basically, anyone can do it, someone who’s got a laptop and an access to WiFi connection. Everyone can build a business and because the barriers are basically non-existent. This opened up new opportunities for quiet and introverted types again, and because we are getting back to building small familiar information bubbles, small environments, very similar to those that our ancestors used to live 70 years ago in small villages, were built the same stuff online, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on I don’t know, other social networks.
We create these little communities. We feel not threatened again. We don’t have to shout. It’s getting back building this horizontal links between people and the old, more traditional, actually more natural style of thought leadership is coming into view and winning more and more worlds. And more and more people begin to understand that being a leader is not about being loud. It’s about being actually able to show your vulnerability, it’s being able to lead by example, it’s being honest, being thoughtful, being more quiet, if you wish. And all modern marketing tactics and concepts that are being more and more recognizable right now that, if you read this literature in marketing that is being published, no one is actually supporting this idea of being pitchy and salesy anymore.
The most effective marketing tactics are considered to be the ones that actually resonate great with introverted types. Like, don’t be spammy, don’t be pitchy with your potential customers. Learn as much as you can about your ideal customer, what they like, what they’re passionate about, where they come from, what their job to be done is, and add their social media preferences, people they follow and craft a personalized message for them. And it tried to engage with them in a very personalized, natural way. Don’t make it automatic. Don’t make them feel used. Make them feel loved, or favor one on one connections and relationship with your customer over group communication.
Again, this is something that resonates with every introverted person. We’re so bad in group communication. But we can be incredibly good in one on one conversation and it’s actually built in a relationship than like, show your vulnerabilities. Again, something that was unsinkable 20 years ago, now, it’s a new way of doing marketing. Make your brand imperfect for people to resonate with it, for people to love it because you can’t love something that is absolutely perfect.
You can’t love Mona Lisa, because it’s just a masterpiece. You can admire it, you can look at it, but you can’t love it. Well, you can love very imperfect cookie made by your granny and so on and so forth. So it’s very, very understandable. And it’s very logical, all this change that we’re seeing. And the most fascinating thing is that all related to change in tech.
Arvid Kahl 22:49
Wow! First off, that was a lot and a lot of really good stuff. Like, I’m still processing this. I love the phrase that you used in this loud and shouty thing. And this also this approach of trying to get as many people as possible, group communication, gigantic outreach. The term that comes to mind is volume in both ways, right? Volume in terms of the loudness of something, and volume in terms of the amount of people. And either way, the higher the volume, the lower the actual relationship to each individual person that you’re relating to. If you yell at somebody, that’s really not a way to meaningfully communicate.
And if you yell at 1000 people at the same time, any one of them will feel as one of 1000 not as one on one that they actually wanna talk to. That I think, that’s why I also really, as many followers as I may have, I try to at least interact with as many of them as possible. Because, like, what is the point of having this communication channel, if I don’t know who I’m talking to, right? Like for somebody who wants to do meaningful stuff and wants to build meaningful connection with people, I wanna see each person behind this Twitter screen or whatever social network I may be on, even in my emails as a real person that I’m talking to, because that is the whole point of my existence, right?
Ana Bibikova 24:19
That’s right. And, you know, actually had maybe in the beginning of our conversation I was going to ask you, how do you manage to interact with so many people? But well, actually, we started talking about it. I figured out that it’s not that you interact with all of them, you interact with them one by one.
And if you put it this way, you try to see every single person behind the screen and interact with it. You’re not trying to cover all of your followers. You’re trying to see every single person there, that is much less overwhelming because for me as an introvert, just this part of being at different social media is the most overwhelming one.
So it’s just when I start answering all the replies and when I start, I feel very natural when I ask questions, when I join the conversations, because I feel kind of in control, right? But when I have to answer all the replies, that’s the most overwhelming part. But if I try to learn how to deal with it, I mean, like seeing it on a very personal level, not just answering everyone, but answering each of them, then it might be a different picture, different angles together.
Arvid Kahl 25:40
That’s the only way, I feel like if I get equally overwhelmed by a list of things. Like you should see my email. You should see the emails I don’t reply to, even though I want to, that’s the thing, right? Like, people ask me questions, people want something from me. And I’m like, “I have other things to do.” My inbox is horrible because of this, because I don’t want to, like put myself into this space where I’m responsible for something, because I have other things on my mind. And my focus is worth this. And now here’s this external thing that wants something for me, that freaks me out all the time. But then I find the time, I go through it, I work through it, it’s work, right? It’s mental work too. It takes a lot of attention and drains a lot of my energy to deal with it. But it has to happen.
And the easiest way for it to happen on social media or any other medium is to really approach this as this is a continuation of an actual conversation that I have with a human being like with you right now, right? I talk to you through this microphone and into this camera, so we have a connection. And an email is just like, you know, a little compartment here and then a couple days later that it continues. And then a couple of weeks later, it may also continue. I have to reframe it as a continual conversation, to be in the right space to communicate with that person. So that’s the trick that I use for myself. And this is a great opportunity to talk about the sponsor of the show today.
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We’ve been talking about like outreach marketing, from the perspective of an introvert and I would assume that many, many people are drawn to, you know, indie hacking solo entrepreneurship, particularly coming from the technical side, because I guess among the nerds, of which I am a proud one, there are a lot of introverted people, right? So what I find so interesting in what you’re talking about, and the work that you’re doing, is that you’re actually helping a lot of people coming out of their shell in the most proverbial sense.
And understanding that oh, there actually is a meaningful way for me to not just do what I like, which is building things for people, but actually making them interested in it in a way that doesn’t hurt me. So I love this. I love your don’t shout approach. But I do wanna talk about is how you can actually make this a reality. Because if you are in a world that is still slightly permeated with people who are shouting all the time, like in the world where everybody’s shouting, how do you stay quiet?
Ana Bibikova 28:54
Yeah, you know, there are so many misconceptions or misunderstanding about introverts and sales and marketing and how actually introverted people can be great in selling stuff. And there are several basic rules about it that we should remember that being great at sales doesn’t mean being chatty, talking all the time. The best salesperson, they’re the best listeners.
And if you’re able to listen and actually understand what your customer is talking about, and channel it into the right direction, and connect their requirements, their aspirations, their wishes with the product that you’re building, or even better build the product based on what you’re hearing, then it’s the best way to sell. And actually introverted people are much better at listening than extroverted one. There have been so many researches and studies that prove this, that introverted people because we’re quiet. The main misunderstanding about introverts is that we don’t like to be, we feel overwhelmed in big communities in a big group and in a room full of people, because we’re antisocial.
But that’s not the case, we’re actually extra social. Our mind works in a way that we are tuned into receiving all types of social cues. We’re like a big antennae, trying to catch all the signals. We can focus on one. We’re like, feel responsible, if we’re in this room with so many people, we have to catch all these signals. And that’s what actually makes us overwhelmed and tied so fast. Because we’re getting so much information. Extroverts are not like this. They’re able to focus their attention on one person at a time and they don’t hear anything else. Or more often, they hear their own voices. They don’t listen to anyone else. They constantly say what they’re going to say next. They don’t listen to people who are talking.
And with introverts, we are aware, we’re very attuned to other people seeing much better than actually noticing little details. That’s why we’re so good at nerdy stuff, right? Because we’re very tuned to noticing details. And, yeah, because of that, we’re actually much better listeners. And if we tasked ourselves with listening to people, listening to our customers, we can be much better at this than any average extrovert, because that’s what we are. Well, that’s who we are. We are like antennae that capturing all this signals.
The second thing is that, again, being as I mentioned, that the modern concepts of marketing and sales is not about trying to reach out to as many people as you can. It’s about finding the right people to reach out to, finding the right persons who would be very passionate about what you’re doing, and who would really benefit from your product. And in this way, it’s not actually so annoying if we think about it, right? It’s a win-win situation.
If you’re building a product that people really need, something that would be meaningful to them, something that would actually be a game changer, something that would save their lifetime, money or whatever, something that would really be helpful, and something that they would appreciate, then we kind of feel in a different way about it. We feel much better about building something that is useful, versus building something that we will have to push on to our audience, something that nobody wants, and will struggle a lot trying to explain what kind of things we’re building. And all this concept about niching down, finding the right customers, it’s about the same things, finding audiences that will benefit most from your product.
And in this scenario, you will not sound pitchy and salesy to them. You will sound really helpful. And for us, as for introverts, it’s very important to be helpful. It’s very important to do something meaningful. If we see that things that we are building are actually appreciated, and they actually save someone’s day, then it’s sort of a different story. It’s inspiring. It’s motivational. You can do much further with building this stuff. And you don’t want to quit, even if you can’t find paying customers straight away, just seeing that you’re building something that people actually need, it’s very motivational. And it helps you to stick around for longer.
Arvid Kahl 34:07
Gives you energy, right? It gives you, it doesn’t drain energy to even interact with people, if you can kind of feel that there’s something there. That there’s something like either you’re already doing it or you’re just around the corner. I love this. I love the approach of I think to synthesize these two things first, like you’re the magnet. You’re the magnet for the signals from the people around you. And you’re also capable of finding the right people by listening really intently. This is perfect. Like when you are an entrepreneur within a community.
I have this Embedded Entrepreneurship approach where I kind of tell people to go into a community, start listening, take notes what they’re saying, and then figure out what is the most critical issue that you can find. What are the solutions that people already use? How can you build something that fits into this and really helps people solve their problem in a novel way? That sounds like the perfect activity for an introvert. Because you’re really good at listening. You’re not shouty, so you’re not gonna scare people away.
If you join a new community, you’re just there and taking it all in and in being able to get all the signals so well, you take in much more than a person that would just go in there with the intent to sell, sell sell, would be able to see, right? You have a different kind of filter. So in that regard, introvertedness is a benefit to being an entrepreneur, compared to you know, as we all grew up, where people told us, “Hey, introvert, not so good, go out and yell or something. Go out and have a party.” I hate parties. I’m not a party fan. I don’t like it. The moment I go into a room, I have to understand it. And I have to be present with everybody. Of course, I don’t have to, but it’s an internal need. And it drains me so quickly.
Ana Bibikova 35:57
Have you noticed that we feel much better when we host a party than we were in the party?
Arvid Kahl 36:05
Yeah. I wonder if that’s about control.
Ana Bibikova 36:06
Because most introverts also have this control issues. It’s about controlling the uncertainty. If we face uncertainty, the party is the most uncertain situation for an introvert, because you meet with so many different people, and you don’t know what to expect from them. And if you host a party, that it’s much less, you kind of feel in control. And that’s why actually social media is a perfect space for introverts, because you can control your interactions much more there than in real life. If you feel overwhelmed, if you don’t want to show up, don’t do it.
Yeah, that’s right.
And it actually helps you to show up more often because you don’t feel threatened constantly. And yeah, I believe that social media was created by introverts for introverts specifically. I think it’s a great place to be right now.
Arvid Kahl 37:03
It’s funny, though, right? The mechanisms of how it’s being monetized and how people are gaming the system for attention are again shouty things, right? These gigantic threads that people push where they look for virality. And in recycling, regurgitated knowledge, all that stuff that really isn’t meaningful, but it’s loud and it attracts people. And the way that the whole ad system works both on Twitter and Facebook, and all these platforms where the more money you pay, the more flashy it gets, the more people actually look at it, it just feels like it’s been built for introverts by introverts, but then usurped by the traditional way of making money. That’s just been placed on top of it, right?
Ana Bibikova 37:45
Yeah, but when neuro stats tells us that introverts comprise about 25% of population, so it makes sense for the founders to go after much more lucrative market. I mean, that’s okay, if that’s the way system works, right? We still can find comfort in that little corners that we are comfortable in. And besides, it actually helps to create, to get into these communities that you mentioned, become an embedded entrepreneur. And using social media is a great way to do it. So if we can use it as a tool, why not if other shouty people can help this system to live much longer, go ahead.
Arvid Kahl 38:31
Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, we all have to adapt. That’s kind of what entrepreneurship is, right? Adapt to the reality out there and then make it happen. I wonder like as many introverts and I’m talking from my own experience here, have trouble both expressing and understanding strong emotion, right? There’s something about like extroverts that have a much easier time with strong emotion. And in marketing, you kind of want to evoke this in others, right? You wanna make other people excited for your work, for the problem that they have and how you can solve it. So as somebody who has problems with strong emotions, how do you evoke it in others?
Ana Bibikova 39:15
In general, you don’t have to evoke strong emotions. It’s like with their principles of storytelling, you know. You don’t have to, it’s like, you know, the big stories, something that, like, life threatening experiences were catastrophic, or like close to death experience, that something that you might think could create a great story, but it does not. It’s something that you might feel very excited to tell to someone, but it doesn’t create this connection between the listeners and the storyteller. Does it create a resonance? People can’t resonate with this experience because, let’s be honest, and luckily, not every one of us goes through close to death experience.
When a person is talking about, you know, friendships or relationships between in the family, something that you can really resonate with something, when you listen to it, you know, oh my, that happened to me like couple of years ago. Or this is something that I’ve been thinking about yesterday. That actually creates the best story. The story that people will share and tell each other over and over again, and something that will be memorable. No one will remember a story about close to death experience. Maybe they will say, “Wow, what a great experience!”
But they will not remember it. They will never come back to reread it or they will never come back to their families and tell the same story or it will never change their lives. While little stories very, you know, basically, something that would consider it to be like daily experiences, something that can happen to everyone, that creates the best stories. Evoking emotion in people is about the same things. So very little small things that people will be able to resonate with. Like build in public, it functions in the same way.
When you share your experiences, it resonates with other people, and they start following you. They start being more invested, more interested in your product and your project. And even if they don’t become customers, eventually, that might happen as well. Because not everyone will use the product that you’re building. But just being able to listen to you to resonate with your story on a personal human level, they will feel invested, this creates this endowment effect. You know, when people feel invested, they’re much more likely to recommend the product to someone else, even if they don’t use it.
But they know the founder, they can act it on this human level. And they will be the amplifiers of the message. They will spread the word anyway. So again, it’s a win-win situation. Just sharing what you have, the bad things and the good things, the thinking process, something that you might come up with something that we usually have this impostor syndrome about, right? No one is interested in it. It’s so like, regular. It’s so unexciting, but then exciting things are actually the most exciting ones. And yeah, that’s how it works.
Arvid Kahl 42:45
That’s it. Yeah, I think that is also a really good solution on how to do self promotion, as a calmer, quieter or an introverted person, right? It’s not about telling people that you’re the greatest. It’s just being relatable. It’s like, I am in the same boat as you. I understand your problems, because I feel them. I understand you. And here’s what I do that mirrors what you do. And now here, I’m trying to solve this problem once and for all for everybody. Which is why building in public, it’s such a solid way of self promoting, because it’s not promoting yourself. It’s promoting, what you do for others?
Ana Bibikova 43:21
Exactly. And that’s why I feel so upset when many founders who wants to do this building in public thing. They do it in a quite, you know, not the most efficient way. They want to share. But they say, I see their struggle trying to find the exciting things to share. Well, they shouldn’t be doing it all the way around. They should be sharing their way of like the decision making process, the behind the scenes, the scenes stuff, how they come to this conclusion, how they failed here, and what lessons have you learned from there? They constantly try to find, you know, the winning things.
Like if they don’t have 1000 customers, they don’t feel comfortable sharing it. Yeah, it’s actually great if it works. Let’s not lie about it. It actually works when you share, you win as well. It motivates other people. And it grades the social proof effect. You know, when you have other customers then you’re probably making a great product that I should try it out because other people are using it.
So it does, but it does not create the connection. It doesn’t create this relatability on the human level, while sharing your vulnerabilities, sharing your failures, sharing the lessons that you’ve learned. That stuff actually creates the necessity for people to become your very devoted fans, to become your friends, to become your family there on social media, someone who would be very, very invested in your product on a personal level, and someone who will be creating this word of mouth effect.
Arvid Kahl 45:11
Yeah, I see long term retention is so much higher when you have an authentic connection, not just a connection built on the highlight reel, which is kind of what I call this, just the best kinds of things, right? Just the win, win, win and this great thing happened. And this amazing thing happened, and oh, wow, I did not expect this to be this great. And I also share these things, because I genuinely feel wow, this is really cool. But then obviously, if I don’t share the flip side of it, then people only get to see like the shallow little surface of what I’m doing.
And I don’t want people connecting just with the surface. That’s not the point of a meaningful relationship, right? But what I want is to connect with them on every single level, so that they understand also, sometimes why I do things that make no sense, right? They come from a different decision that was maybe made when things didn’t work so well. So if I just share my highlight reel, then all of a sudden, there’s this weird decision. It’s just inconsistent, and no relationship ever could be built on an inconsistent level of connection. That’s how my mind frames this whole authenticity thing.
And a person that only connects with this top layer of this is only the best kind of stuff, they will be very quickly surprised, and maybe also disillusioned, if they ever see something negative happening to you. Something that does not fit this story, this narrative of being a constant hero winning all your battles. You’re essentially lying to people. That’s what it is, if you don’t talk about the things that don’t work well.
Ana Bibikova 46:44
Yeah, absolutely. You’re absolutely right. As I said, the new perfect is imperfect. You have to create very, you have to put a human face and actually an actual founder behind every brand now. And that strategies, marketing strategies, or sales strategies that work really much better than just discussing some kind of faceless, even perfect logo that people can’t resonate with.
On the other hand, it also raises kind of the question, how far should we go discussing our imperfections? How far should we go showing our vulnerabilities? What kind of narrative should we project on social media? Because one thing or not, it’s still a performance, right? It’s not, we can’t show the whole depths of our personalities, all sides of our elementals. So it’s still kind of a balance between being helpful, and being human, like sharing something valuable.
And that’s how I try to find this balance. I’d constantly ask myself, is there a lesson that other people might learn from me sharing this? If there is, I would be happy to share, and always try to show this is my takeaway, maybe you can come to another conclusion, maybe you will be learning as a lesson from my story. But it’s up to you to decide, here is what I had, and there is my outcome.
But if it’s just you know, ranting and being negative, it’s not something that I want to project on social media, because there is so much negativity in this world. I don’t want to add up to this. I don’t want to be another source of it. And in general, I don’t know I’m just this type of a person that I can be thinking about half empty glass, but to my own, I will never share this worldview with with others, because I kind of feel my responsibility to create more positive environment around myself.
Arvid Kahl 49:03
Yeah, you attract what you put out, right? If you project positivity, you attract positive people, or at least people who think that it’s possible to be positive, right? Because there’s always ups and downs. But if you’re just ranting all the time, if you’re complaining, then that will attract those who relate to that strongly. And will also don’t really see a way out of it, which is probably why Twitter in particular as a platform, and I’m using it every single day. It can be so polarizing, if you follow the wrong people.
And it can be so liberating and so empowering, if you follow the right people. It just kind of boils down to what you said with like finding the right people. That’s not just about customers. That’s not just about prospects. It’s about the people that inform your life, the people that create the things you read and create the thing or just the people you talk to on an everyday basis.
Ana Bibikova 50:01
Yeah, absolutely. And as I said in the beginning, we kind of recreating online, this little societies, our ancestors used to live 70 years ago, like we all confined to these little villages. And we ended up in the right one, or the right neighbors and a very peaceful environment, we actually enjoy the whole experience. If our neighbors are toxic, horrible bastards, then we want very fast to leave the premises and go somewhere else. So look it’s the same way, getting back to where we started from.
Arvid Kahl 50:38
Well, if people want to include you in that tiny little village, where would they find you? Where would they go to figure out how to spend more time with you and work?
Ana Bibikova 50:48
Okay, so my platform of choice ended up being Twitter as well. I enjoy it a lot. I am very grateful that you were my entrance point there. That’s how I ended up in the right village in a very peaceful and enjoyable one. And yeah, so you can, everyone can find me on Twitter, Ana Bibikova or NotechAna, because I started long ago trying to explain that, though I’m in a startup community. Startups are not all about tech. There are so many other things that we should talk about around there.
And while also I’m trying to be more active on LinkedIn, because I have many students, from the mothership programs that I’m a part of. I actively use this social media, especially, you know, founders from the Middle East, they don’t use Twitter at all. So I tried to put out some useful content there as well.
Arvid Kahl 51:48
Well, thank you so much. It’s good to know that you’re also diversifying your platforms to reach different kinds of people. I think that that all by itself is an interesting and recommendable lesson for people, right? It’s not all just one place. The villages that we have in the virtual world, they can take many different shapes and they have multiple little parts, little neighborhoods that may be
Ana Bibikova 52:11
I’m trying to different villages onto different planets.
Arvid Kahl 52:16
Right. Yeah, that’s this whole thing. And then there’s the whole language situation, right? That we often focus only on one language in which we communicate to reach as many people as possible. But even for myself, like sometimes I’m trying to help German people speaking German and being able to communicate my thoughts in my native language that helps a whole other community that may be excluded from having access to that one village, right? Because they don’t know where it is. They can’t read the signs leading to it.
Anyhow, and thank you so much, again, for being here today. It was awesome to talk to a fellow introvert. That’s always exciting. And thank you for sharing all these lessons. Yeah. Thanks so much for sharing all these lessons and how we can use our strength as an introvert, to build a business and to reach people and tell them what they need and share with them what they can use. So thank you so much for being on today.
Ana Bibikova 53:17
Thank you. Alright, thank you.
Arvid Kahl 53:18
And that’s it for today. Thank you for listening to the Bootstrapped Founder Podcast. You can find me on Twitter @arvidkahl, ARVID KAHL and you’ll find my books here too, Zero to Sold and The Embedded Entrepreneur and my Twitter course, find your following there as well. If you wanna support this podcast and me, please go to ratethispodcast.com/founder and leave a rating and review, if you can find the time. It would be an amazing and very helpful gesture. Thank you so much for listening, and have a wonderful day. Bye bye!
What we talk about
00:00:00 Entrepreneurship and Introversion
00:10:13 Growing up being introverted without knowing what it is
00:16:57 A History of Introversion
00:22:49 The loud and shouty approach to social media
00:27:33 How do you stay quiet when you’re selling?
00:34:07 You’re the magnet for signals from the people around you
00:42:45 How to do self-promotion as an introvert vs. an extrovert
00:49:03 You attract what you put out, not what you say