As an extroverted parent, raising a teenage boy who proclaims himself to be an “introverted child” can be interesting at times.
I’m not sure at what point my son, Mikey, stumbled upon the belief he was an introvert.
When I started to put this together, the following video popped into my mind, thus it’s only right I share it with you (in the spirit of Demi Lovato, Mikey, Sorry-Not-Sorry).
Does this look like an Introverted Child?
Parenting from Fear
As a parent, I’ve never been the type to say, color inside the lines, don’t talk to strangers or perfect grades are all we’ll accept.
The long-term consequences of messages like that worry me because they can easily be perceived subconsciously as negative.
In our house, we try our hardest, as parents, to let our children solve their own problems, to encourage them to ask questions and also let them know that failing is better than not trying (provided they truly give it their best).
We want them to remain curious in life and not grow into a life that is controlled by fears.
Transitioning from an Introvert to an Extrovert
First, you should know I have three kids (if you’re a parent with multiple kids, you’ll understand the next part of this sentence) and though born from the same parents and raised with relatively the same parenting style, each is completely different.
Our youngest, Katie, is what you would expect from the typical youngest. She’s loud, hustles to be the best, is a definite risk-taker, outgoing and (yes, okay siblings) a bit spoiled.
Our middle child, Mandy, also matches what many would say are classic middle child syndrome.
She’s highly intelligent and also WAS a bit of an introverted child.
If you ask Mandy now, she’d say she’s an Extrovert.
In 2013, Mandy was nine and very quiet.
So I decided to bring her to some networking events and see if that would break her out of her “shell” a bit.
At these events, she met entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau at his $100 Startup book tour event, author and entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz at another book signing event and I even took her out of school to go meet the Governor of NJ at another private event.
She became a bit more outgoing at each event, to the point where I was able to bring her to meet Gary Vaynerchuk three different times.
Today, Mandy is 13, motivated, outgoing and even a contributor to our Flagship Magazine, Fearless Family.
So you might be asking what about Mikey, the self-proclaimed introverted child and what’s the “experiment” all about?
Raising an Introverted Child
First, let me preface this by saying I believe all parenting is a live experiment.
Yes, there’s plenty of studies about which way is the best and many great discussions around each.
The one thing we can all agree on though is children don’t come with an owners manual and all we can do is love them, try our best and lead by example.
Recently, for an upcoming podcast and Fearless Family magazine article, we interviewed author and world-famous parenting psychologist, Dr. Vanessa Lapointe. She had this to say, which I found really interesting:
What are the stories that we tell ourselves that then infuse the way that we parent our children? And then in our actions, what then are the stories that our children pick up on that then infuse the way they understand the world?
I’m not sure what story Mikey is telling himself that makes him say he’s an introvert, but I know he has a strong desire to be a YouTuber and is already earning money from his YouTube channel.
Behind a mic, he’s super outgoing and hilarious, but outside the home, isn’t the outgoing one you see on YouTube or from the video above.
Because he’s super serious about making this his profession and devotes hours a day to perfecting his craft, I obviously want to help, since this is kind of my area of expertise.
Here’s the thing, like Dr. Lapointe said above, it’s our actions that they watch and the stories they then tell themselves.
For example, if I say “you have to listen to this podcast from Lewis Howes that I think you’ll find interesting,” he may or may not listen.
However, when he’s telling me a story and I say “I just heard Gary Vaynerchuk mention that on Youtube,” he’s more likely to go and listen independently. Sure enough, I now see him liking and engaging with all Gary’s Instagram posts.
The Extroverted Parental Experiment (please try this at home)
I have huge respect for entrepreneur Noah Kagan. Truly humble, helpful and his new podcast: amazing.
If you don’t know who Noah is, look at this:
- You know Facebook status updates? Yup, he was part of it’s creation but he didn’t see eye-to-eye with Mark Zuckerberg and was fired. Today his stock options would be worth $185 Million, if he hadn’t been fired.
- Early employee at Mint.com and quit right before Intuit bought them, which is a $1.7 Million dollar loss.
- Owned a company Gambit which was doing $40,000 a day and went to $0 overnight.
WOW, talk about learning from failing forward.
I attended the first conference Noah put on in 2016 and, honestly, it was the best conference I had ever been to (I’ve been to a lot both to speak and as an attendee).
I knew 2017 would be no different. Since it’s a small conference of world-class entrepreneurs (many online), I thought back to what impact bringing my daughter to meet Gary in 2013 had and said, let me experiment and see what this would do for my son.
First, I reached out to Noah to ask if he and his team would be okay with it. His team graciously gave my son free admission.
Next, I brought this up to my son, who had already seen a few of Noah’s amazing YouTube videos.
Being the “introvert” he claims to be, he quickly said no because he didn’t want to fly.
So naturally I asked, “You’ll go if you don’t have to fly?”
He said of-course, not thinking Dad would want to drive 18 hours.
Off we headed from Tampa to Austin.
He took off school for four days and heard some amazing entrepreneurs speak, learned a ton about networking and even asked me the very last day if he could attend next year’s event.
Even the photographer and videographer of the event from Transition Films was amazing. Of course, Mikey gravitated to talking with him a lot, and he even taught Mikey to value his creativity more, which meant the world to him.
His head was filled with many entrepreneurial ideas, we had a great time bonding and he even met a world-champion Sumo. (Doesn’t every conference have Sumo wrestlers attend?)
Other than having an amazing father/son road trip, a highlight for me was when we pulled back into our community late that night.
He asked, “what should I tell my teachers when they ask me how the trip was and what I learned?”
Confused, I asked what he meant.
He said, “Well, if I’m honest with them I’ll probably hurt their feelings.”
He said he learned more in four days at this conference than he had all year at school.
Conclusion and Experiments Results
So did the extroverted, entrepreneurial dad, really help his introverted child?
Are you ready for the experiments results?
I don’t know, because it’s truly indifferent to me if he’s an introvert or extrovert.
I don’t parent from fear, as mentioned above, and don’t want to create any anxiety because my son isn’t like me.
He’s his own individual, who’s remarkably talented, much more creative than I ever was and I admire to the moon and back.
I do believe bringing Mikey had a HUGE impact on him.
I see him constantly trying new things on Youtube and he’s recently started to use a new app called Photofox, where he’s ranked in the top three for many of their picture contests. He’s even started to pick up his Instagram game with his awesome photography and is even implementing some copywriting techniques that were mentioned at the conference.
Will I bring him again next year? Well, we set some goals for him and if he hits them (which he will) we’ll be taking another road trip again together!