Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking - Susan Cain (2012)

Part I. THE EXTROVERT IDEAL

Chapter 1. THE RISE OF THE “MIGHTY LIKEABLE FELLOW”

How Extroversion Became the Cultural Ideal

Strangers’ eyes, keen and critical.
Can you meet them proudly—confidently—without fear?
—PRINT ADVERTISEMENT FOR WOODBURY’S SOAP, 1922

The date: 1902. The place: Harmony Church, Missouri, a tiny, dot-on-the-map town located on a floodplain a hundred miles from Kansas City. Our young protagonist: a good-natured but insecure high school student named Dale.

Skinny, unathletic, and fretful, Dale is the son of a morally upright but perpetually bankrupt pig farmer. He respects his parents but dreads following in their poverty-stricken footsteps. Dale worries about other things, too: thunder and lightning, going to hell, and being tongue-tied at crucial moments. He even fears his wedding day: What if he can’t think of anything to say to his future bride?

One day a Chautauqua speaker comes to town. The Chautauqua movement, born in 1873 and based in upstate New York, sends gifted speakers across the country to lecture on literature, science, and religion. Rural Americans prize these presenters for the whiff of glamour they bring from the outside world—and their power to mesmerize an audience. This particular speaker captivates the young Dale with his own rags-to-riches tale: once he’d been a lowly farm boy with a bleak future, but he developed a charismatic speaking style and took the stage at Chautauqua. Dale hangs on his every word.

A few years later, Dale is again impressed by the value of public speaking. His family moves to a farm three miles outside of Warrensburg, Missouri, so he can attend college there without paying room and board. Dale observes that the students who win campus speaking contests are seen as leaders, and he resolves to be one of them. He signs up for every contest and rushes home at night to practice. Again and again he loses; Dale is dogged, but not much of an orator. Eventually, though, his efforts begin to pay off. He transforms himself into a speaking champion and campus hero. Other students turn to him for speech lessons; he trains them and they start winning, too.

By the time Dale leaves college in 1908, his parents are still poor, but corporate America is booming. Henry Ford is selling Model Ts like griddle cakes, using the slogan “for business and for pleasure.” J.C. Penney, Woolworth, and Sears Roebuck have become household names. Electricity lights up the homes of the middle class; indoor plumbing spares them midnight trips to the outhouse.

The new economy calls for a new kind of man—a salesman, a social operator, someone with a ready smile, a masterful handshake, and the ability to get along with colleagues while simultaneously outshining them. Dale joins the swelling ranks of salesmen, heading out on the road with few possessions but his silver tongue.

Dale’s last name is Carnegie (Carnagey, actually; he changes the spelling later, likely to evoke Andrew, the great industrialist). After a few grueling years selling beef for Armour and Company, he sets up shop as a public-speaking teacher. Carnegie holds his first class at a YMCA night school on 125th Street in New York City. He asks for the usual two-dollars-per-session salary for night school teachers. The Y’s director, doubting that a public-speaking class will generate much interest, refuses to pay that kind of money.

But the class is an overnight sensation, and Carnegie goes on to found the Dale Carnegie Institute, dedicated to helping businessmen root out the very insecurities that had held him back as a young man. In 1913 he publishes his first book, Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business. “In the days when pianos and bathrooms were luxuries,” Carnegie writes, “men regarded ability in speaking as a peculiar gift, needed only by the lawyer, clergyman, or statesman. Today we have come to realize that it is the indispensable weapon of those who would forge ahead in the keen competition of business.”

Carnegie’s metamorphosis from farmboy to salesman to public-speaking icon is also the story of the rise of the Extrovert Ideal. Carnegie’s journey reflected a cultural evolution that reached a tipping point around the turn of the twentieth century, changing forever who we are and whom we admire, how we act at job interviews and what we look for in an employee, how we court our mates and raise our children. America had shifted from what the influential cultural historian Warren Susman called a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality—and opened up a Pandora’s Box of personal anxieties from which we would never quite recover.

In the Culture of Character, the ideal self was serious, disciplined, and honorable. What counted was not so much the impression one made in public as how one behaved in private. The word personality didn’t exist in English until the eighteenth century, and the idea of “having a good personality” was not widespread until the twentieth.

But when they embraced the Culture of Personality, Americans started to focus on how others perceived them. They became captivated by people who were bold and entertaining. “The social role demanded of all in the new Culture of Personality was that of a performer,” Susman famously wrote. “Every American was to become a performing self.”

The rise of industrial America was a major force behind this cultural evolution. The nation quickly developed from an agricultural society of little houses on the prairie to an urbanized, “the business of America is business” powerhouse. In the country’s early days, most Americans lived like Dale Carnegie’s family, on farms or in small towns, interacting with people they’d known since childhood. But when the twentieth century arrived, a perfect storm of big business, urbanization, and mass immigration blew the population into the cities. In 1790, only 3 percent of Americans lived in cities; in 1840, only 8 percent did; by 1920, more than a third of the country were urbanites. “We cannot all live in cities,” wrote the news editor Horace Greeley in 1867, “yet nearly all seem determined to do so.”

Americans found themselves working no longer with neighbors but with strangers. “Citizens” morphed into “employees,” facing the question of how to make a good impression on people to whom they had no civic or family ties. “The reasons why one man gained a promotion or one woman suffered a social snub,” writes the historian Roland Marchand, “had become less explicable on grounds of long-standing favoritism or old family feuds. In the increasingly anonymous business and social relationships of the age, one might suspect that anything—including a first impression—had made the crucial difference.” Americans responded to these pressures by trying to become salesmen who could sell not only their company’s latest gizmo but also themselves.

One of the most powerful lenses through which to view the transformation from Character to Personality is the self-help tradition in which Dale Carnegie played such a prominent role. Self-help books have always loomed large in the American psyche. Many of the earliest conduct guides were religious parables, like The Pilgrim’s Progress, published in 1678, which warned readers to behave with restraint if they wanted to make it into heaven. The advice manuals of the nineteenth century were less religious but still preached the value of a noble character. They featured case studies of historical heroes like Abraham Lincoln, revered not only as a gifted communicator but also as a modest man who did not, as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “offend by superiority.” They also celebrated regular people who lived highly moral lives. A popular 1899 manual called Character: The Grandest Thing in the Worldfeatured a timid shop girl who gave away her meager earnings to a freezing beggar, then rushed off before anyone could see what she’d done. Her virtue, the reader understood, derived not only from her generosity but also from her wish to remain anonymous.

But by 1920, popular self-help guides had changed their focus from inner virtue to outer charm—“to know what to say and how to say it,” as one manual put it. “To create a personality is power,” advised another. “Try in every way to have a ready command of the manners which make people think ‘he’s a mighty likeable fellow,’ ” said a third. “That is the beginning of a reputation for personality.” Success magazine and The Saturday Evening Postintroduced departments instructing readers on the art of conversation. The same author, Orison Swett Marden, who wrote Character: The Grandest Thing in the World in 1899, produced another popular title in 1921. It was called Masterful Personality.

Many of these guides were written for businessmen, but women were also urged to work on a mysterious quality called “fascination.” Coming of age in the 1920s was such a competitive business compared to what their grandmothers had experienced, warned one beauty guide, that they had to be visibly charismatic: “People who pass us on the street can’t know that we’re clever and charming unless we look it.”

Such advice—ostensibly meant to improve people’s lives—must have made even reasonably confident people uneasy. Susman counted the words that appeared most frequently in the personality-driven advice manuals of the early twentieth century and compared them to the character guides of the nineteenth century. The earlier guides emphasized attributes that anyone could work on improving, described by words like

Citizenship
Duty
Work
Golden deeds
Honor
Reputation
Morals
Manners
Integrity

But the new guides celebrated qualities that were—no matter how easy Dale Carnegie made it sound—trickier to acquire. Either you embodied these qualities or you didn’t:

Magnetic
Fascinating
Stunning
Attractive
Glowing
Dominant
Forceful
Energetic

It was no coincidence that in the 1920s and the 1930s, Americans became obsessed with movie stars. Who better than a matinee idol to model personal magnetism?

Americans also received advice on self-presentation—whether they liked it or not—from the advertising industry. While early print ads were straightforward product announcements (“EATON’S HIGHLAND LINEN: THE FRESHEST AND CLEANEST WRITING PAPER”), the new personality-driven ads cast consumers as performers with stage fright from which only the advertiser’s product might rescue them. These ads focused obsessively on the hostile glare of the public spotlight. “ALL AROUND YOU PEOPLE ARE JUDGING YOU SILENTLY,” warned a 1922 ad for Woodbury’s soap. “CRITICAL EYES ARE SIZING YOU UP RIGHT NOW,” advised the Williams Shaving Cream company.

Madison Avenue spoke directly to the anxieties of male salesmen and middle managers. In one ad for Dr. West’s toothbrushes, a prosperous-looking fellow sat behind a desk, his arm cocked confidently behind his hip, asking whether you’ve “EVER TRIED SELLING YOURSELF TO YOU? A FAVORABLE FIRST IMPRESSION IS THE GREATEST SINGLE FACTOR IN BUSINESS OR SOCIAL SUCCESS.” The Williams Shaving Cream ad featured a slick-haired, mustachioed man urging readers to “LET YOUR FACE REFLECT CONFIDENCE, NOT WORRY! IT’S THE ‘LOOK’ OF YOU BY WHICH YOU ARE JUDGED MOST OFTEN.”

Other ads reminded women that their success in the dating game depended not only on looks but also on personality. In 1921 a Woodbury’s soap ad showed a crestfallen young woman, home alone after a disappointing evening out. She had “longed to be successful, gay, triumphant,” the text sympathized. But without the help of the right soap, the woman was a social failure.

Ten years later, Lux laundry detergent ran a print ad featuring a plaintive letter written to Dorothy Dix, the Dear Abby of her day. “Dear Miss Dix,” read the letter, “How can I make myself more popular? I am fairly pretty and not a dumbbell, but I am so timid and self-conscious with people. I’m always sure they’re not going to like me.… —Joan G.”

Miss Dix’s answer came back clear and firm. If only Joan would use Lux detergent on her lingerie, curtains, and sofa cushions, she would soon gain a “deep, sure, inner conviction of being charming.”

This portrayal of courtship as a high-stakes performance reflected the bold new mores of the Culture of Personality. Under the restrictive (in some cases repressive) social codes of the Culture of Character, both genders displayed some reserve when it came to the mating dance. Women who were too loud or made inappropriate eye contact with strangers were considered brazen. Upper-class women had more license to speak than did their lower-class counterparts, and indeed were judged partly on their talent for witty repartee, but even they were advised to display blushes and downcast eyes. They were warned by conduct manuals that “the coldest reserve” was “more admirable in a woman a man wishe[d] to make his wife than the least approach to undue familiarity.” Men could adopt a quiet demeanor that implied self-possession and a power that didn’t need to flaunt itself. Though shyness per se was unacceptable, reserve was a mark of good breeding.

But with the advent of the Culture of Personality, the value of formality began to crumble, for women and men alike. Instead of paying ceremonial calls on women and making serious declarations of intention, men were now expected to launch verbally sophisticated courtships in which they threw women “a line” of elaborate flirtatiousness. Men who were too quiet around women risked being thought gay; as a popular 1926 sex guide observed, “homosexuals are invariably timid, shy, retiring.” Women, too, were expected to walk a fine line between propriety and boldness. If they responded too shyly to romantic overtures, they were sometimes called “frigid.”

The field of psychology also began to grapple with the pressure to project confidence. In the 1920s an influential psychologist named Gordon Allport created a diagnostic test of “Ascendance-Submission” to measure social dominance. “Our current civilization,” observed Allport, who was himself shy and reserved, “seems to place a premium upon the aggressive person, the ‘go-getter.’ ” In 1921, Carl Jung noted the newly precarious status of introversion. Jung himself saw introverts as “educators and promoters of culture” who showed the value of “the interior life which is so painfully wanting in our civilization.” But he acknowledged that their “reserve and apparently groundless embarrassment naturally arouse all the current prejudices against this type.”

But nowhere was the need to appear self-assured more apparent than in a new concept in psychology called the inferiority complex. The IC, as it became known in the popular press, was developed in the 1920s by a Viennese psychologist named Alfred Adler to describe feelings of inadequacy and their consequences. “Do you feel insecure?” inquired the cover of Adler’s best-selling book, Understanding Human Nature. “Are you fainthearted? Are you submissive?” Adler explained that all infants and small children feel inferior, living as they do in a world of adults and older siblings. In the normal process of growing up they learn to direct these feelings into pursuing their goals. But if things go awry as they mature, they might be saddled with the dreaded IC—a grave liability in an increasingly competitive society.

The idea of wrapping their social anxieties in the neat package of a psychological complex appealed to many Americans. The Inferiority Complex became an all-purpose explanation for problems in many areas of life, ranging from love to parenting to career. In 1924, Collier’s ran a story about a woman who was afraid to marry the man she loved for fear that he had an IC and would never amount to anything. Another popular magazine ran an article called “Your Child and That Fashionable Complex,” explaining to moms what could cause an IC in kids and how to prevent or cure one. Everyone had an IC, it seemed; to some it was, paradoxically enough, a mark of distinction. Lincoln, Napoleon, Teddy Roosevelt, Edison, and Shakespeare—all had suffered from ICs, according to a 1939 Collier’s article. “So,” concluded the magazine, “if you have a big, husky, in-growing inferiority complex you’re about as lucky as you could hope to be, provided you have the backbone along with it.”

Despite the hopeful tone of this piece, child guidance experts of the 1920s set about helping children to develop winning personalities. Until then, these professionals had worried mainly about sexually precocious girls and delinquent boys, but now psychologists, social workers, and doctors focused on the everyday child with the “maladjusted personality”—particularly shy children. Shyness could lead to dire outcomes, they warned, from alcoholism to suicide, while an outgoing personality would bring social and financial success. The experts advised parents to socialize their children well and schools to change their emphasis from book-learning to “assisting and guiding the developing personality.” Educators took up this mantle enthusiastically. By 1950 the slogan of the Mid-Century White House Conference on Children and Youth was “A healthy personality for every child.”

Well-meaning parents of the midcentury agreed that quiet was unacceptable and gregariousness ideal for both girls and boys. Some discouraged their children from solitary and serious hobbies, like classical music, that could make them unpopular. They sent their kids to school at increasingly young ages, where the main assignment was learning to socialize. Introverted children were often singled out as problem cases (a situation familiar to anyone with an introverted child today).

William Whyte’s The Organization Man, a 1956 best-seller, describes how parents and teachers conspired to overhaul the personalities of quiet children. “Johnny wasn’t doing so well at school,” Whyte recalls a mother telling him. “The teacher explained to me that he was doing fine on his lessons but that his social adjustment was not as good as it might be. He would pick just one or two friends to play with, and sometimes he was happy to remain by himself.” Parents welcomed such interventions, said Whyte. “Save for a few odd parents, most are grateful that the schools work so hard to offset tendencies to introversion and other suburban abnormalities.”

Parents caught up in this value system were not unkind, or even obtuse; they were only preparing their kids for the “real world.” When these children grew older and applied to college and later for their first jobs, they faced the same standards of gregariousness. University admissions officers looked not for the most exceptional candidates, but for the most extroverted. Harvard’s provost Paul Buck declared in the late 1940s that Harvard should reject the “sensitive, neurotic” type and the “intellectually over-stimulated” in favor of boys of the “healthy extrovert kind.” In 1950, Yale’s president, Alfred Whitney Griswold, declared that the ideal Yalie was not a “beetle-browed, highly specialized intellectual, but a well-rounded man.” Another dean told Whyte that “in screening applications from secondary schools he felt it was only common sense to take into account not only what the college wanted, but what, four years later, corporations’ recruiters would want. ‘They like a pretty gregarious, active type,’ he said. ‘So we find that the best man is the one who’s had an 80 or 85 average in school and plenty of extracurricular activity. We see little use for the “brilliant” introvert.’ ”

This college dean grasped very well that the model employee of the midcentury—even one whose job rarely involved dealing with the public, like a research scientist in a corporate lab—was not a deep thinker but a hearty extrovert with a salesman’s personality. “Customarily, whenever the word brilliant is used,” explains Whyte, “it either precedes the word ‘but’ (e.g., ‘We are all for brilliance, but …’) or is coupled with such words as erratic, eccentric, introvert, screwball, etc.” “These fellows will be having contact with other people in the organization,” said one 1950s executive about the hapless scientists in his employ, “and it helps if they make a good impression.”

The scientist’s job was not only to do the research but also to help sell it, and that required a hail-fellow-well-met demeanor. At IBM, a corporation that embodied the ideal of the company man, the sales force gathered each morning to belt out the company anthem, “Ever Onward,” and to harmonize on the “Selling IBM” song, set to the tune of “Singin’ in the Rain.” “Selling IBM,” it began, “we’re selling IBM. What a glorious feeling, the world is our friend.” The ditty built to a stirring close: “We’re always in trim, we work with a vim. We’re selling, just selling, IBM.”

Then they went off to pay their sales calls, proving that the admissions people at Harvard and Yale were probably right: only a certain type of fellow could possibly have been interested in kicking off his mornings this way.

The rest of the organization men would have to manage as best they could. And if the history of pharmaceutical consumption is any indication, many buckled under such pressures. In 1955 a drug company named Carter-Wallace released the anti-anxiety drug Miltown, reframing anxiety as the natural product of a society that was both dog-eat-dog and relentlessly social. Miltown was marketed to men and immediately became the fastest-selling pharmaceutical in American history, according to the social historian Andrea Tone. By 1956 one of every twenty Americans had tried it; by 1960 a third of all prescriptions from U.S. doctors were for Miltown or a similar drug called Equanil. “ANXIETY AND TENSION ARE THE COMMONPLACE OF THE AGE,” read the Equanil ad. The 1960s tranquilizer Serentil followed with an ad campaign even more direct in its appeal to improve social performance. “FOR THE ANXIETY THAT COMES FROM NOT FITTING IN,” it empathized.

Of course, the Extrovert Ideal is not a modern invention. Extroversion is in our DNA—literally, according to some psychologists. The trait has been found to be less prevalent in Asia and Africa than in Europe and America, whose populations descend largely from the migrants of the world. It makes sense, say these researchers, that world travelers were more extroverted than those who stayed home—and that they passed on their traits to their children and their children’s children. “As personality traits are genetically transmitted,” writes the psychologist Kenneth Olson, “each succeeding wave of emigrants to a new continent would give rise over time to a population of more engaged individuals than reside in the emigrants’ continent of origin.”

We can also trace our admiration of extroverts to the Greeks, for whom oratory was an exalted skill, and to the Romans, for whom the worst possible punishment was banishment from the city, with its teeming social life. Similarly, we revere our founding fathers precisely because they were loudmouths on the subject of freedom: Give me liberty or give me death! Even the Christianity of early American religious revivals, dating back to the First Great Awakening of the eighteenth century, depended on the showmanship of ministers who were considered successful if they caused crowds of normally reserved people to weep and shout and generally lose their decorum. “Nothing gives me more pain and distress than to see a minister standing almost motionless, coldly plodding on as a mathematician would calculate the distance of the Moon from the Earth,” complained a religious newspaper in 1837.

As this disdain suggests, early Americans revered action and were suspicious of intellect, associating the life of the mind with the languid, ineffectual European aristocracy they had left behind. The 1828 presidential campaign pitted a former Harvard professor, John Quincy Adams, against Andrew Jackson, a forceful military hero. A Jackson campaign slogan tellingly distinguished the two: “John Quincy Adams who can write / And Andrew Jackson who can fight.”

The victor of that campaign? The fighter beat the writer, as the cultural historian Neal Gabler puts it. (John Quincy Adams, incidentally, is considered by political psychologists to be one of the few introverts in presidential history.)

But the rise of the Culture of Personality intensified such biases, and applied them not only to political and religious leaders, but also to regular people. And though soap manufacturers may have profited from the new emphasis on charm and charisma, not everyone was pleased with this development. “Respect for individual human personality has with us reached its lowest point,” observed one intellectual in 1921, “and it is delightfully ironical that no nation is so constantly talking about personality as we are. We actually have schools for ‘self-expression’ and ‘self-development,’ although we seem usually to mean the expression and development of the personality of a successful real estate agent.”

Another critic bemoaned the slavish attention Americans were starting to pay to entertainers: “It is remarkable how much attention the stage and things pertaining to it are receiving nowadays from the magazines,” he grumbled. Only twenty years earlier—during the Culture of Character, that is—such topics would have been considered indecorous; now they had become “such a large part of the life of society that it has become a topic of conversation among all classes.”

Even T. S. Eliot’s famous 1915 poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock—in which he laments the need to “prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet”—seems a cri de coeur about the new demands of self-presentation. While poets of the previous century had wandered lonely as a cloud through the countryside (Wordsworth, in 1802) or repaired in solitude to Walden Pond (Thoreau, in 1845), Eliot’s Prufrock mostly worries about being looked at by “eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase” and pin you, wriggling, to a wall.

Fast-forward nearly a hundred years, and Prufrock’s protest is enshrined in high school syllabi, where it’s dutifully memorized, then quickly forgotten, by teens increasingly skilled at shaping their own online and offline personae. These students inhabit a world in which status, income, and self-esteem depend more than ever on the ability to meet the demands of the Culture of Personality. The pressure to entertain, to sell ourselves, and never to be visibly anxious keeps ratcheting up. The number of Americans who considered themselves shy increased from 40 percent in the 1970s to 50 percent in the 1990s, probably because we measured ourselves against ever higher standards of fearless self-presentation. “Social anxiety disorder”—which essentially means pathological shyness—is now thought to afflict nearly one in five of us. The most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), the psychiatrist’s bible of mental disorders, considers the fear of public speaking to be a pathology—not an annoyance, not a disadvantage, but a disease—if it interferes with the sufferer’s job performance. “It’s not enough,” one senior manager at Eastman Kodak told the author Daniel Goleman, “to be able to sit at your computer excited about a fantastic regression analysis if you’re squeamish about presenting those results to an executive group.” (Apparently it’s OK to be squeamish about doing a regression analysis if you’re excited about giving speeches.)

But perhaps the best way to take the measure of the twenty-first-century Culture of Personality is to return to the self-help arena. Today, a full century after Dale Carnegie launched that first public-speaking workshop at the YMCA, his best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People is a staple of airport bookshelves and business best-seller lists. The Dale Carnegie Institute still offers updated versions of Carnegie’s original classes, and the ability to communicate fluidly remains a core feature of the curriculum. Toastmasters, the nonprofit organization established in 1924 whose members meet weekly to practice public speaking and whose founder declared that “all talking is selling and all selling involves talking,” is still thriving, with more than 12,500 chapters in 113 countries.

The promotional video on Toastmasters’ website features a skit in which two colleagues, Eduardo and Sheila, sit in the audience at the “Sixth Annual Global Business Conference” as a nervous speaker stumbles through a pitiful presentation.

“I’m so glad I’m not him,” whispers Eduardo.

“You’re joking, right?” replies Sheila with a satisfied smile. “Don’t you remember last month’s sales presentation to those new clients? I thought you were going to faint.”

“I wasn’t that bad, was I?”

“Oh, you were that bad. Really bad. Worse, even.”

Eduardo looks suitably ashamed, while the rather insensitive Sheila seems oblivious.

“But,” says Sheila, “you can fix it. You can do better.… Have you ever heard of Toastmasters?”

Sheila, a young and attractive brunette, hauls Eduardo to a Toastmasters meeting. There she volunteers to perform an exercise called “Truth or Lie,” in which she’s supposed to tell the group of fifteen-odd participants a story about her life, after which they decide whether or not to believe her.

“I bet I can fool everyone,” she whispers to Eduardo sotto voce as she marches to the podium. She spins an elaborate tale about her years as an opera singer, concluding with her poignant decision to give it all up to spend more time with her family. When she’s finished, the toastmaster of the evening asks the group whether they believe Sheila’s story. All hands in the room go up. The toastmaster turns to Sheila and asks whether it was true.

“I can’t even carry a tune!” she beams triumphantly.

Sheila comes across as disingenuous, but also oddly sympathetic. Like the anxious readers of the 1920s personality guides, she’s only trying to get ahead at the office. “There’s so much competition in my work environment,” she confides to the camera, “that it makes it more important than ever to keep my skills sharp.”

But what do “sharp skills” look like? Should we become so proficient at self-presentation that we can dissemble without anyone suspecting? Must we learn to stage-manage our voices, gestures, and body language until we can tell—sell—any story we want? These seem venal aspirations, a marker of how far we’ve come—and not in a good way—since the days of Dale Carnegie’s childhood.

Dale’s parents had high moral standards; they wanted their son to pursue a career in religion or education, not sales. It seems unlikely that they would have approved of a self-improvement technique called “Truth or Lie.” Or, for that matter, of Carnegie’s best-selling advice on how to get people to admire you and do your bidding. How to Win Friends and Influence People is full of chapter titles like “Making People Glad to Do What You Want” and “How to Make People Like You Instantly.”

All of which raises the question, how did we go from Character to Personality without realizing that we had sacrificed something meaningful along the way?