Ask the Author, With Transformational Speaker and Bestselling Author Jacqueline ShaulisJan 20, 2022
By Tricia Scott.
Jacqueline Shaulis is the leading authority on communication-based personal leadership for intersectional introverts. As an introverted woman of colour, she's leveraged her challenging upbringing into becoming a transformational speaker, bestselling author, and executive coach & advisor to Fortune 500 executives…all while honouring her introversion.
"The Excitable Introvert", Jacqueline uses a fabulous mix of practical strategies, entertaining stories, and a dash of woo to give audiences and fellow introverted women of colour the confidence to create lives they simply love to live.
The founder of Awesome Enterprises LLC, Executive Director of the National Center for Intersectional Studies, and author of internationally bestselling books "Embrace Your Awesome" and "Yes Introverts Can". When not globetrotting with coffee in hand or loudly singing "tune-adjacent" at home, you can find Jacqueline getting lost in a good (audio)book or hugging her son, his nine cousins, or the nearest tree.
As you can imagine, I was thrilled and beyond honoured to welcome Jacqueline to our corner of the internet to share her journey and experiences as a best-selling author; I know you will love her.
Jacqueline, firstly, thanks so much for being here with us and sharing a little bit about your journey as a writer. Could you tell us a little bit about what made you decide to share your own experiences with the world via books?
I've always been an avid reader, and I knew that I would be a writer from an early age. In fact, when other kids in kindergarten wanted to be doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, firefighters, I wanted to be a New York Times bestselling author. So my love for books and writing, and an awareness of that passion, was evident early on. I had the privilege to begin my published author journey quite early. My first published book was when I was 11, as part of an anthology through the Young Writers Guild, as an organisation and my hometown. I personally have experienced what it's like to have your world transformed and to see things through a different light by being exposed to books. And the worlds that are created with books, how you can tap into someone else's experiences and how that can help shape and deepen and even amplify your own, that's a process I want to be a part of for someone else.
You carry out in-depth research for your books. How time-consuming has it been to write 'Yes Introverts Can' around your other work, and how did you manage?
The research for Yes, introverts can has become a labour of love. When I first started exploring the topic of the experiences of intersectional introverts, I honestly had no intention of making it a larger work that it's now become. I thought I would look at some of the familiar faces of celebrities, notable people who are also introverted and share some of their experiences and what they say about introversion. However, as I began to look for data around the experiences of intersectional introverts, especially for introverted women of colour, I was quite dismayed to find that essentially nothing exists from a research standpoint, from a data collection standpoint.
There are 1000s of stories from the individual women sharing their lived experiences as introverted women of colour but no vetted, in-depth exploration of this experience and how it affects so many aspects of life. So I am building that body of data to simultaneously explore the shared lived experiences of introverted women of colour and create a data set that's never been created so future researchers can extrapolate, expand, and springboard from, because, without numbers, we don't exist.
Although I am focusing primarily on the US, what we share as far as lived experiences and the disconnect between what has been deemed worthy of deeper exploration led to a much more time-consuming process. In preparing for and writing Yes Introverts Can, I'm building something that goes well beyond the initial book - and there's little to mitigate the time needed to create a new thing that keeps creating more new things LOL But for me to manage that, there are a few things I did.
The first thing was to understand that the much broader work I wanted to do can't fit in this one book. I would love to put all of my insights into this one comprehensive book, but then it loses the message. So I know that there will be at least one more, probably a series of books, coming in the future.
Knowing that I can't cover everything, the second piece was for me to focus on the most relatable, tangible details for now and delve deeper in subsequent books. By focusing on high profile, world-changing women of colour who consider themselves introverted, I intentionally allowed their lived experiences of being both introverted and influential to lead the conversation while providing the blueprint that we mere mortals can follow in our world.
Lastly, I've partnered with fellow researchers to bring the pieces together for this and the more extensive work it's spawned. Without help from others, there's no way I can do just to the topic nor to the women whose experiences have been invisible but impacted by their intersectional identities as introverts.
In the book, you discuss introversion as a spectrum. What does that mean?
Well, it's quite common for people to think of introverts versus extroverts. Introverts are on one side. They're shy, antisocial, quiet, or bashful. Versus extroverts, who are the life of the party, the centre of attention, the loudest, most vibrant, most engaging. However, this is not an accurate view.
Introversion and extraversion are two ends of a spectrum of how one processes stimulation. People are various shades of grey from light, light, light to dark, dark, dark and all the gradients in the middle. So there's not a pure introvert or a pure extrovert, and these are not opposing views.
Introversion is simply the term used to explain or define a person who takes in stimulation and needs to process that stimulation internally. Social engagement does not happen by engaging with others; processing that engagement comes from being away from the stimulus, be that being away from people or particular situations. Introverts need time away from anything that is causing us to process too much information.
The fact that it is a spectrum needs to be normalised because many people don't identify with the word "introvert" because the common perception of introversion does not fit them, but neither does the common perception of an extrovert because they are somewhere within that grey, which virtually every person is. So we need to understand that introversion is not an extreme in and of itself, but it is the internal processing side of a spectrum simulation processing.
How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
My first book was published when I was 11, as part of a group called the Young Writers Guild, so my first book and first book tour were part of a collaborative effort. And honestly, that was so many moons ago, I don't remember specifically what I did after it was published! I remember my parents wanted to have a small get together, and we may have gone to dinner to celebrate, but that was more or less the long and short of it.
The initial publishing itself was great, but I don't think its magnitude was apparent. I saw that first book as just the stepping stone to all of the other things because I've known practically my whole life - that I would be a writer—a notable, award-winning one at that. The celebration of that win of publishing a book as a teen was primarily short-lived because it was, in my mind at least, a great stepping stone to get to all of the other goals and dreams that I had in my mind at the time.
What does literary success look like to you?
I've discovered it can vary from my childhood vision of being a New York Times bestselling author. Being on that New York Times bestsellers list remains an elusive, coveted goal that I aim toward for many reasons. But after having nearly two dozen books under my belt, literary success is being able to have my message not only to convey the knowledge, the wisdom, the authority that I'm here to share with those who most need it, but also for people to take that understanding, knowledge, and message and implement it. I've been fortunate enough to be a global Amazon Best Seller six times with six different works, and I've had several others that were national bestsellers. My work has been translated into seven languages and sells on six of the seven continents. And that is a great feeling - it's mind-blowing, in fact.
However, it didn't necessarily tick the box of my message being transformational; for me to see that transformational side, hearing the stories of people taking my books and sharing it with someone else is a fantastic accomplishment. I was a full-grown adult before I could afford to purchase a book from one of my favourite authors, Judy Blume; I've read everything she's written at least twice since elementary school, thanks to my local library. Creating a legacy like hers to change the generational experience of someone (and hopefully many someones!) is now my key metric.
That's a literary success to me because now my words have not only transformed one life, it's been so influential in that one person's life that now another generation is being graced with that wisdom and that freedom to be themselves. That is the pinnacle of success - of course, the higher your sales numbers, the more your message is sent forth, but they aren't the end all that perhaps people might suspect that they are.
If you could choose someone to play you in the movie of your life, who would it be??
Oh, I do not know - probably Issa Rae. She's a fellow introvert, and she has just the right amount of leaning into her introversion and her quirkiness and her creativity while somehow simultaneously leaning into her ambition and her desire to advance herself and others as she's advancing. All of those are the qualities I would want to be portrayed on the screen, and I feel between her innate abilities and her ability to capture other characters that she would be a great person to play my life. Plus, she's freaking hilarious and gorgeous - her glowing skin is what my dreams are made of!
Do you have a hot tip for other aspiring authors reading this interview?
My tip is to allow yourself the space and the grace to share your message. It is pretty easy to talk yourself out of writing a book or talking yourself into being part of #TeamTooMuch. You're trying to do everything alone, and you get overwhelmed, and so then you do nothing.
Allow yourself to have fun and play with being able to share your message in your way because the way you convey your message through your experiences will speak to people like no one else can. There's no shortage of books on self-help, personal development, self-management, and all of these categories. Even within fiction, the competition is endless, and you can find a slew of books within the most obscure sub-genres. But the way one author addresses an issue or conveys their experience is different from another, even if all other things are equal.
Your readers are parched and awaiting the cool drink of water that is your voice, perspective, and message in the way you convey it. So allow yourself that space to enjoy sharing your message, whatever that message may be, and allow yourself the grace to have fun with figuring it out and capturing it.
Do you read your book reviews?
Yes, I do. And for one of my bestsellers, my heart was broken because the first one I got a great review and the next couple I got were terrible reviews. And I was personally hurt; I was trying not to cry as I was reading and not take it personally. But the reviewers, especially one in particular, took it very personally apparently. And because this particular book was one I wrote with my son (and I'm an introvert), I took it very personally. But by reading those reviews and dabbing my eyes after the bad ones, I went back to look at the actual book, and you know what? They were right. They were accurate. I was upset that I got those reviews, but ultimately, I'm glad. It allowed me to pull the book off the shelf and make some adjustments because it was published through my publishing company. It allowed me to correct those things and then make it available again, which in my case, the reviews went back up, as did my sales.
What's your favourite book?
This is a tough question because I read a LOT of books, and for the most part, I enjoy about 85% to 90% of the books I read. I genuinely enjoy reading and listening to audiobooks, so it's hard to call a single book. My longest-loved personal favourite is a book called Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, and he has something of a sequel called A Light in the Attic.
I first read this book of poetry when I was in elementary school, maybe 9 or 10 years old, and I was so amazed that poetry could be fun, silly, and engaging. And I loved having the illustrations along with the poems - some are very small, like just maybe half an inch on a page, and others take up multiple pages. It just blew my mind that it was somehow permissible to be so unique and have people love you for it. It changed my perspective about myself. And that book continues to be one that I still go back to and read. Even after all these years of reading and rereading and re-rereading, I still get so much joy and insight that continues to shape my life, and now my kiddo's life too. It's been one of my favourites across every stage of my life, and I suspect that will continue.
What life experiences have shaped your writing most?
Just having the freedom to share my story, experiences, and voice–and no one else's–has shaped me the most. For the most part, I've sprinkled the duality of my childhood into all of my work - some more subtle and others more in-depth. On the one hand, I achieved terrific successes and did incredible things early in life. By the time I was 17, I had published my first book, was a guest columnist for a local newspaper, was a speaker and performer on international stages, won coveted speaking competitions, was a college instructor, and started attending college. Yet, I simultaneously experienced incredible lows between my family's turbulence and violence, my bulimia, suicide ideation and planning, being molested, dyslexia, near debilitative perfectionism, and just feeling out of sorts within my family and myself because of my dreams and my introverted nature.
And so that duality of having the worst of times and the best of times, and having to hold them both in tension, has most shaped my life, and it has touched absolutely every aspect of my life even to this day. I'm grateful that I have been able to glean lessons even from that duality and those experiences, and I've been able to heal in large part using those experiences as a light for others through my work and writing.
If you could each give one message to the world's introverted women, what would it be?
Introversion is not a flaw to fix or an obstacle to overcome. It's an invitation to live deeply and impact greatly. And we need you to embrace your AWESOME so you can do just that.
What's next for you as a writer? Can we expect any more of your work to appear on our bookshelves soon?
Definitely! As of right now, I have seven books that will be released in 2022, either as my work, as a co-author, or as a contributing author. I'm crying a little, thinking of the chasm I've dug for myself, LOL.
My current book, "Yes Introverts Can", is available on pre-sale and will be released soon.
I will be doing a second edition of "For the Love of Our Ancestors", which is one of a couple of books I've written with my son, and it's an exploration of largely overlooked African-American changemakers and the individual lessons from their lives we can apply to our lives.
For the first time, my book "My Connection Blueprint" will be available to the public and breaks down how introverted entrepreneurs can leverage their unique brand of connection to amplify their message and expand their impact without being someone they're not.
"Mistress of Her Divinity" is a culmination of wisdom from some of the experts that I've featured at the Mistress of Her Divinity Conference. It was the first of its kind to be a global virtual summit focusing on the lived experiences of women of colour across the world using their work to express their divinity.
Additionally, I will be partnering with some fantastic powerhouse authors and speakers for a couple of collaborative projects under wraps but will be out this year. All my other goings-on are available at my website www.iEmbraceAwesome.com.
If you would like to know more about Jacqueline and her incredible work, you can read on here. You can also catch up with her on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter and Clubhouse You can also pick up a copy of her brilliant books here.
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