In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about introverts that learned to talk.

It’s common to assume we know the difference between extroverts and introverts. One might be forgiven in believing that extroverts are talkative and outgoing people, while introverts are quiet and tend to be very private. However, this is not always the case.

In this episode, Steli and Hiten talk about the history of the startup chat, the idea of being introverted versus extroverted, the difference between an introvert and an extrovert, why categorizing people isn’t helpful and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About the topic of today’s episode

00:41 Why this topic was chosen.

01:00 The idea of being introverted versus extroverted.

02:11 The difference between an introvert and an extrovert.

03:20 Examples of introverts being extroverted.

04:05 Why categorising people isn’t helpful.

05:00 Why this might be more of an activity.

06:12 How one can use their fears as excuses.

06:44 How personality is a spectrum.

08:07 How it’s about stories you tell yourself.

3 Key Points:

  • Everybody has people they could be extroverted with even if they consider themselves introverts
  • I’m not sure there’s a difference between an introvert and an extrovert.
  • It’s not that helpful to think in absolute categories.


Steli Efti: Hey, everybody, this is Steli Efti.


Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah. Today, on The Startup Chat, we’re going to talk about a very fascinating topic. The topic is about introverts that learn to talk. That’s the title. I find it fascinating, I find it really fascinating, this whole idea of introvert versus extrovert. I’m going to sort of start it now that you’ve given me the topic, Steli, right before this, by saying, “Is there really a difference between an introvert and an extrovert?” That might be a really controversial statement. I think, my take, is that there are … That everybody has people who they can be extroverted with, even if they consider themselves an introvert. So I want to start there,-


Steli Efti: Beautiful.


Hiten Shah: … Because I know some self-proclaimed introverts, multiple ones.


Steli Efti: You live in Silicon Valley, how would you not? How would you not?


Hiten Shah: They tell me things like, “I don’t get energy from people.” But, these are the same people that I can talk to them, at least one of these two that I have in mind. I know that they’ll talk to me all day. They don’t have a problem talking to me. It’s just interesting to me to experience that, and yet, that person say, “I’m an introvert.” Sometimes, I think this is the whole point that we wanted to get to was, there are people who either consider themselves introverts, or very introverted, or have those qualities, that actually get out there and do things in the real world, and around people, and go speak like you and I do. It’s something definitely worthy of talking about, because, first of all, I’m not sure if there’s a difference. I’m not actually sure if I agree with the fact that there are people who are introverts and then there are people who are extroverts. I think there are just people. We tend to make up our own stories about what we like and what we don’t like, and who we are and who we aren’t.


Steli Efti: I love that. This is one of my favorite things about the podcast, is I’ll throw a premise at you, then you’ll step back and be like, “Is this premise even real?” And reframing it. So that’s part of the fun of this. There’s a part that I agree with and a part that I don’t. So what I like and agree with, is that it is mostly, most circumstances, not that useful to think in absolute categories. Label, introvert, extrovert, pick your label and then act accordingly, or pick a label that will then excuse your behavior, or create a box that you can now use as your limitations. I don’t like that, and I think that that’s bullshit, and you hit that point really hard and really, I think, powerfully. I completely agree with that. I also agree, I also love the kind of reframing it in a way where you go, “Hey, even if you think you’re an introvert, there are people you love to talk to. There’s people that you might be really loud, extroverted person towards.” So being extroverted or introverted might be much more of an activity versus a DNA personality thing that’s unchangeable. It maybe just means there are a certain type of people you love to be extroverted to. It might mean there are certain circumstances that are easy for you to be extroverted to. Or, it might mean that it’s convenient for you to be introverted, because you really haven’t faced your fears. The fear of being rejected, the fear of being laughed at, the fear of people not accepting you. So you use those fears, or you allow these fears to define you, and you gave it a label that says, “I’m introverted,” which now allows you to not face those fears and put yourself out there more. I agree with all of that. Now, the one thing that I have to say is that I have seen and observed, and I do believe it exists, I do believe that there are … People have a personality, and the personality can change, but they have one. I do believe that there is a spectrum. I have met people, or I know people very intimately, or really, really well, that will get energy from almost all human interaction. So they seek human interaction at all times. Those are people that never want to be alone, because they always get joy from having an audience or a group around them. They seek that out, and that’s how they design their life. Then, there’s the people that with most people, it will suck their energy down and drain them, so they avoid interacting with lots of people in most areas of life. And everything in between, there’s a massive spectrum here. But, I’m not sure if we are all exactly the same and we’re just choosing where we want to be, or based on our behavior, are placing ourselves, based on free will somewhere on the spectrum, without … Because they just know there’s nothing inherent in your DNA or your personality that would make you a little bit more or little less intro or extroverted. Does that make sense?


Hiten Shah: Right. Right. Yeah, I think … I’ll repeat something I said and see how it resonates. I think it’s about stories you tell yourself. I really think it’s about that. If you keep telling yourself you’re an introvert, you don’t get energy from people, or it drains you. Then, guess what’s going to happen, Steli? That’s just what you’re going to keep finding in the world.


Steli Efti: That’s true. Yeah.


Hiten Shah: That’s what you’re going to keep experiencing. It’s not to say that’s bad. If there’s something you’re doing there because it’s some subconscious thing that’s important to you, or you have some, whether it’s trauma or experience that makes you believe that. That’s fine. I’m not judging you for saying it. I’m more looking at it like, for me it works like this. I feel like I can go … I haven’t met many people like this, I think you’re like this too, but I can go all day talking to other people, and I can hit the end of the day and I could still keep going, and I don’t really need to stop. That’s on average, 80%, 90% of the people that I meet, or in general, the interactions I have. I can continue them. I can have … I mean, I’ve given advice to probably 30 founders back to back in 20 minute sessions or something like that. I don’t even know if the numbers add up there, but I think they do, it’s like 10 hours, right? I’ve done that before and it was fine. I didn’t go at the end of the day and … At the end of the day I wasn’t like, “Oh my God, I’m done.” I’ve had 12 user interviews in a day, maybe more. I think 12 is my peak. I could keep going. But, I think you mentioned this before we got on, which is, “Hey, Hiten,” you didn’t say it or label me, but you were implying that I was an introvert, right?


Steli Efti: Yeah.


Hiten Shah: I’m wondering how you got that, because those tendencies I just described don’t necessarily mean … Wouldn’t necessarily make people think I’m an introvert. So then, how do I do it?


Steli Efti: Yeah, that’s a good point. That was the reason why I actually came up with the idea of talking about this, is because I feel like … I mean, with me it’s for sure, people think I’m the most extreme version of an extrovert, and they think that all I do all day long is kick in doors and scream at people, and I want to always have an audience.


Hiten Shah: Oh, man.


Steli Efti: Not true.


Hiten Shah: I know.


Steli Efti: I think with you, I don’t think with you it’s as extreme, because of your personality overall, and also your persona onstage or kind of any other public forum. But, I do still feel like a lot of people would think that you’re an extrovert just because you’re putting yourself out there, you’re a really good communicator, you give great talks, great interviews, you’re giving advice to so many people. You have a personal brand which then always equates to people thinking you’re a good communicator, a very charismatic one, which always translates into people thinking, “This is an extrovert.”


Hiten Shah: Right.


Steli Efti: I know that I’m not an extrovert in that box that I always want to talk to people, always want to be out there. I know that I, I think that’s also not true for you.


Hiten Shah: It’s not. Yeah.


Steli Efti: So what I wanted to accomplish, maybe the framing is wrong, but what I wanted to accomplish in the episode, is share that with our listeners so that people that listen to us that would self-identify as introverts, don’t think that we are just totally different human beings. There’s something to relate to, because we’re not always seeking an audience, or always seeking people to talk to. So it was more about showing a different side of us to our audience, that many people might miss about us. That was kind of the starting point of me wanting to talk about it.


Hiten Shah: Yeah.


Steli Efti: With you specifically, what gave me the impression that you could be sort of an introvert, that’s a good question, actually a damn good question. I don’t know if I have objectively … I don’t have an example that I can point to, and I don’t have you, your testimony. You’ve never told me, “I’m an introvert,” or something like that, right? But, I think just my observation of your personality and overall friendship over the years, definitely has me, it created the impression in me that you don’t just blatantly love talking to people or being extroverted at all times.


Hiten Shah: No, yeah.


Steli Efti: You prefer to put yourself out there, because it benefits you, your business, and the people. You want to provide value and help people. You enjoy it in the right context. But, it is something that it was not necessarily, I don’t know if … I actually imagine you, you should correct this if it’s wrong, because it’s fascinating. But, if you tell me, “Hey, Steli, imagine the seven year old Hiten at a playground.” I actually imagine a kind of a more quiet child, a more smart child that rather would play with some complicated toy and pull it apart and put it together, than the one that’s like painted in the faces like, “I’m the captain of this group,” and there’s bunch of children that are like, “Yeah,” and you’re like, “Follow me, we’re doing this.” I don’t imagine you that way, and I might be wrong, this might be a stereotype. But, I think it’s just more over the years, the image that was created in my mind.


Hiten Shah: Yeah, I think you’re right. I definitely wasn’t the painted face child making people run around behind me, or in front of me, or whatever. Yeah, this is interesting. I just find it that I want to be able to do whatever I’m best at in my life. Best at could be things that I want to learn, or things like … Best at doesn’t mean I’m best at it right now. What I’ve found is that by talking to other people, I can get better at communicating. By writing, I can get better at communicating. By being in a group, I can learn how that dynamic works, my ideas get better. So even by speaking, like not onstage or something, the ideas get better and I learn a lot. So I think one way to think about this, if you feel like you … Whether you’re drained by people, or whatever your story is in your head, one thing to think about is, “What am I … What can I do? And, how can I do more of that, and either develop a skill that I have, or find a reason to not be so introverted, if you want to call it that, and get out there and do some things.” So for example, one of the main reason I like to practice communication and talking to other people, is because for me, one of the most important things in business is being able to talk to your customer. That could be sales, that could be research for your product, whether it’s customers that aren’t your customers yet, or customers that are your customers, then learning from them to make the product better and the experience better for them. So those kind of skills, that skillset of communication and relationships is pretty important to me. What I realize is if I’m not practicing it, that I’m not getting better at it. Then, so one of my simple things that might be helpful to some other folks is that, these things are important to grow your business, these things meaning talking to people. I try to find every opportunity I can to do it. I mean, just the other day I tweeted about wanting to talk to agencies and service businesses that have [crosstalk].


Steli Efti: Yeah, I retweeted that.


Hiten Shah: Yeah, thank you. What I realize is there’s a certain group of people for my business, FYI, that I haven’t been talking to, and these group of people are interesting. I know I can offer some value to them, I’m sure they’ll take me up on it, and that’s fine. But, they can offer value to me, I want to understand them better. So I just did a tweet on a whim and I don’t know how many interviews I have now next week. But, I actually had one now before this call. I have another one today, and then I have a whole bunch next week. We’re on a Friday right now. I kind of forced myself to do some of that stuff. The reason being, I wanted to improve the way I communicate, I want to improve the way my relationships are. A lot of that has to do with how I speak and how I talk to people.


Steli Efti: Beautiful. All right. I think this was a fascinating conversation, and I think one that is unexpected for people that are listening to us, to talk about are we introverted or not, does this exist? How do we deal with the act of talking to people and interacting with them. If you were a self-identified introvert or extrovert, and you have opinions you felt like you wanted to agree or disagree, or add something to this conversation, we’d love to hear from you. Send us an email,,, we always love to hear and learn from our listeners. If you haven’t done this yet, please do us the favor, do yourself the favor, go to iTunes, give us a five star review, right something about what this podcast means to you, why you’re listening to us. We’ll really appreciate it, it really helps the community grow. I think this is it for us for this episode, and we’ll hear you very soon.


Hiten Shah: Take care.