by Poornima @femgineer
We tend to shy away from promoting ourselves and the work we do, because we're afraid people will think we're bragging.
I’m spending the first half of this week in NYC, promoting the launch of my upcoming book: How to Transform Your Ideas into Software Products. Then I’ll head back to California to prepare for it’s launch. I’m so excited that it’s only 1-week away!
After one of my talks here, a young woman named Sandy came up to me, she thanked me for coming out, and then she said, “I’m really struggling with the concept of self-promotion. I see you do it, and it doesn’t seem slimy or salesy, it looks natural, and it’s helpful to others. But I always feel strange when I talk about myself or my work. I guess I just don’t like being put on the spot.”
So then I asked Sandy, why she felt like when I did it, it didn’t feel slimy or salesy? Sandy responded, “It really just seems like you’re super passionate about the topic, and want to see others do well and succeed. You’re sharing your strategies, and we are eager to know what they are!”
Sandy basically answered her own concern: it’s because I’m passionate about the work that I do. If I wasn’t then I’d sound disingenuous and people wouldn’t take me seriously.
Sandy also followed up and said, “I am really passionate about the work I do, but I’m just not sure how to showcase it without sounding like I'm bragging.”
Aside from passion, the other key element to being comfortable enough to showcase your work, is be able to take pride in it.
Pride is a touchy subject
Most people, including Sandy and myself have been taught to be humble, while pride is equated with being a braggart. So instead of taking pride, they may acknowledge their limitations any chance they get or be self-deprecating.
It’s OK to acknowledge our limitations, but we also need to be comfortable speaking about what we’re particularly good at, because who we work with or for, wants to know that we’re competent! Eventually they’ll realize it by seeing the work we do, but initially we have to tell them that we are by sharing with them the work we’ve done before and the positive outcomes that resulted from it.
I know as I say this you might still feel like you’re not good at anything. If that is indeed the case then you need to ask yourself:
Is it because I’m just getting started, and battling the learning curve?
Am I comparing myself to the level that someone else is at?
Do I feel like my work needs to be perfect in order to be proud of it?
Do I feel like it’s just not novel enough?
It’s only natural to have these feelings. But know that you’ll always be learning, and there maybe someone who is just a little bit better than you (and the good news is you can learn from them).
Battling perfection and novelty
Right before my book went out to print, I combed it for typos several times! My editor did as well. When I received the final copy I handed it to my boyfriend, and within 1-minute he spotted a typo (sigh).
I was annoyed, but I realized there was nothing I could do. 300 copies were being printed, I’d deal with it, and fix it in a future run!
I also realized that one tiny typo wasn’t going to stand in the way of me taking pride in the months of work I had put in to create the book.
Then there’s novelty… We think of innovation as making a breakthrough or discovering something new, but the Merriam Webster’s defines innovation as the following: in technology, an improvement to something existing.
This definition can be applied to other fields as well. Innovating is introducing a change. We don’t always have to be coming up with something brand new to be proud of the work we do.
Now I want to know what work you’ve done recently that you are really proud of? Just hit reply to this email and let me know!