Shelves: In a nutshell, this book is about elevator speeches. If you have studied up on this subject before than this book may not prove to be all that ground breaking. If not, then you should definitely pick it up as it covers a very important topic in the business world and provides valuable nuggets sprinkled throughout. Like most motivational books, this book is just fine.
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There it is. That last one. Stating your value and accomplishments is risky because you might come across as pompous or make other people feel uncomfortable. But will you get ahead? Humility is a virtue with biblical and spiritual roots that is taught the world over.
In some areas of the world, such as Asia, humility is prized much the way we in America prize our freedom of speech. Early on we are taught humility for good reason. But the problem is this: Very few of us ever learn how to reconcile the virtue of humility with the need to promote ourselves in the workplace.
Somehow we think if we personalize our message or get too excited, we are not being professional, when in fact this is exactly what makes us effective self-promoters. Wimping Out The tug-of-war between showing humility and showcasing our accomplishments is played out daily across working America, even in the brashest of industries.
From the back of the room, I overheard one guy encouraging Patty, a twenty-six-year-old, perfectly coiffed junior banker to share her success story. With prodding from the whole group, she finally stood up. It was a team effort. There was this guy who I had read about in the paper, so I wrote him and later called his assistant, who said he wanted to meet with me. I went in and told him about the services of the bank and what we could do for him.
He said it sounded interesting and asked where do we go from here? So we went back in two weeks. And then she sat down. I asked the group for some feedback. The fellow who had initially urged her on was flabbergasted. You heard about this guy, you called him up, you met with him, and he gave you ten million dollars!
You told it as if you had nothing to do with it. Quite frankly, you sounded like a wimp. He said: Oh man, I read about this guy in the paper. I got really excited about it. I wrote him a fabulous letter. I called his assistant to set up a meeting with him.
On the day of the appointment, I was nervous but we still had a great conversation. I was really on my game that day. Then they did their thing. Just yesterday the guy contacted me to give us his ten-million-dollar account. I am so psyched! I nursed this baby from beginning to end. I asked the group to describe differences between the two versions of the story.
The remarks were revealing: "David really owned it. He came across as excited about what happened. But he seemed authentic, too. You could tell he was really proud of what he had done. No one is going to have your interests at heart the way you do.
No one will ever tell your story and get people excited about you like you can. Unfortunately, the accolade is often framed in such a way as to bolster them, more than you! Since most people rarely acquire the skills to promote and talk about themselves, many come to rely on others to do the dirty work and boast on their behalf.
Where we start to really stumble is when we grow up. When we no longer have our childhood cheerleading squad on hand, many of us wrongly presume that others in the workplace will fill their shoes and continue with unconditional support for our accomplishments and us.
It was really the team. He believes that his numbers speak for themselves and he assumes that his boss, who has praised him often for his sales prowess, will let the higher-ups know. You know that problem we were having with our fixed-pricing schedule? And that is exactly what happened.
First, because he placed very little importance on making personal connections with his boss or senior management, they had no vested interest in him, other than some guy making his numbers. Had he revealed something more about himself and his story, his boss would have learned that Bill is from a tough neighborhood. He put himself through school and now spends a lot of his leisure time as a mentor with troubled youth. Knowing this, his boss might have told the CEO instead, "I knew the day he walked in that Bill was gold.
He had already worked his way through college, and that kind of can-do attitude has paid off. He becomes more than just a good hire. He becomes a gutsy, hardworking guy with a can-do attitude.
And if Bill had mentioned to his boss his work with youth, a seed might have been planted. Seldom are we encouraged to bring our background, our experience, and our enthusiasm to the table and weave them into a compelling human-interest story. I am in my office early when the phone rings and I answer it.
I just graduated with a degree in communication. I was an excellent student with a 4. I wrote for the school newspaper, which has won accolades from all over the state. I also interned at a local advertising agency during the summers for the last four years. I have a very good reputation and references. For my term paper, I wrote about the changing role of communication in our society today. I think I would be perfect for a job in communication, and since you are involved in that, I wanted to speak with you.
You might want to consider some of the larger firms in the area. Sarah, like many, is a victim of a one-size-fits-all method of presentation that emphasizes form over authenticity. If she had only started off by asking, "Is this a convenient time to talk? As it was, I just wanted to get her off the phone. Unlike Patty, the junior banker who resisted telling others about her multimillion-dollar business win, Rebecca was excited and proud.
She was happy and confident. She was a female thrilled to tell the world about her success. She was one of the few. Although their parents may have told them they could do anything they wanted, there was also a big but. It was all right if the boys vied for the limelight and one-upped each other, but girls were taught to share it with others.
And even then, it was best not to draw too much attention to themselves. This disinclination among professional women to self-promote has far-reaching consequences. It can affect referrals, negotiations of work schedule, salary, high-visibility assignments, and promotions, as well as make your blood boil when you see the guys getting ahead faster.
Once I coached a physician from Harvard who was preparing a presentation to a large conference of her peers. Although only in her thirties, she had a tremendous amount of credibility in her field and a great deal of experience speaking at conferences. What she did as a result was to present an unconvincing and boring recitation of her findings. She decided that she was willing to take the risk of stepping into the spotlight to present a fuller, more authentic version of herself.
Instead, she learned to present her own characteristics with conviction and confidence by using direct eye contact, a sense of humor, and a conversational speaking style. She talked about herself and her credentials with enthusiasm, convincing her audience of the importance of her research.
If she believed she was the expert and worthy of recognition, so would they. In fact, bragging as an art is just the opposite. Seeing it in this light, one woman pointed out that bragging is really a way of honoring our own spirits and who we really are. To see bragging in this way, we have to start by wiping the slate clean and dropping our preconceived notions.
As one man recently asked, "I have a boss and all he does is brag about himself. I hate it. Do I want to be one of those people? Is this what your program is all about? Let me show you how to talk about yourself in a way that is sincere and feels comfortable.
Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It
“Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn, Without Blowing It”