It’s no secret. Most people feel uncomfortable when it comes to promoting themselves and their accomplishments.
At some point in your life, you’ve probably been told that it’s not polite to brag.
You may have even been told that people who are actually smart (or successful or talented) don’t feel the need to tell others about their abilities.
And that’s fine. I get it. No one likes a braggart.
But the problem arises when your desire to be modest about your achievements holds you back from getting promoted into a senior level executive position.
So how do you “brag” about the amazing things you’ve done without coming across as annoying or self-absorbed?
In this episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer, I explain why modesty isn’t always the best way AND give you practical strategies for promoting your achievements without losing a part of yourself.
What You'll Learn:
- When and where it’s appropriate to talk about your abilities – and when and where it’s not
- A case study for sharing your accomplishments in a way that feels authentic to you
- Why selling and marketing yourself becomes part of your job description as you advance into senior executive leadership positions
- Three proven sales techniques you can use to start selling yourself TODAY
- How to use storytelling to share your successes in a way that builds connections and fosters trust
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
Hello, everyone! And welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer.
Super excited to be here with you guys this evening as I'm recording this podcast. And man, it has been quite the week. At the time of recording this, I have been stuck inside my home for almost a full week. For those of you who might have seen on the news or who live out on the West Coast in the United States, you probably heard about the orange sky that we experienced in the Bay Area on Wednesday. We woke up and the sun never rose, essentially. So it was a dark day from morning till night. It had this orange glow to it, but it was pretty much like right before the sun rises in the morning is what it felt like. Like that early morning sunrise, for the entire day.
And it was depressing. It was bad. It felt terrible, I'm going to admit. And then the worst thing was, is that the next day we were covered in a cloud of smoke that was so bad and hazardous that we were told not even to really leave our houses, don't get in the car unless you have to. So I have a three and a five year old, and because of the shelter in place order, we can't go to stores. We can't really go anywhere. So we've pretty much been inside for almost a week now. And I'm about to pull my hair out, I'm not gonna lie. It's kind of nuts.
Now, I will say, I'm super, super grateful that our house is not threatened, that we are not threatened by the actual fires themselves. So, I just want to be clear that there are really people out there suffering, and I am, at worst, being stuck in my home. So my prayers and best wishes go out to everyone out here on the West Coast who are affected by these fires. It's pretty devastating.
So that was my week. I hope your week has been well. And let's just get going with today's podcast, shall we?
So I talked about how I've been stuck in these, in my home, I was going to say these four walls, for a week now with a three and a five year old.
So my five year old actually just started kindergarten this year. And she is in virtual kindergarten, which is not really relevant to the story, but it's just relevant to my life and my sanity right now. But she inspired this episode. So why is that? Well, there's nothing like having children to figure out where all your bias is in life.
So I am constantly coming up against telling her things like, stop bragging or you're being too loud. These are things that I know, especially as women or minorities, that when we're told this at a young age, it really affects how we show up in our careers later on in life.
So at the very least, I have awareness around these challenges. And so, I think that that is a good thing for my daughter, of course, that I'm having some awareness around it and trying to figure out, OK: 'What is better language that I could use with her?'
But what I want to talk to you guys about today is this concept of bragging. And it really came to light because my husband noticed it, that my daughter brags a lot. She is super, super proud of her accomplishments and she wants to tell everyone.
Now, especially her three year old brother. And so in those cases, I think she actually is bragging in order to make herself look better and put him down. So we're dealing with that issue in and of itself. But just in general, the concept of bragging, right, and whether or not it's a good thing to brag.
And then my husband pointed out this idea, this concept, that smart people, people who are actually smart, don't brag. And he said that that was something that he grew up with kind of as a mantra, because he was pretty smart. He was above average in his class and he was very quiet about it. He didn't brag about it. And he was actually told by his parents that it's not something that we brag about. We don't tell other people. We don't talk about our accomplishments. It's just not something that we do.
And this light bulb went off, because, as you know, I am constantly giving you tools and ideas so that you can advance your career. And one of the ways that you do that is through advocating for yourself. Essentially, bragging about your accomplishments.
And I thought: 'Oh, my gosh. No wonder it's so difficult for people to speak up for themselves, because they're being told in so many different ways that it's not OK to brag.'
So I did a little bit of brainstorming and trying to think, is there actually any good messaging out in the world that tells us, as human beings, that it is a good thing to brag? And it is really, really difficult to come across. Instead, we're told things like smart people don't brag, or you're just showing off. Don't show off. Or don't toot your own horn. Or braggers are self-absorbed. Or they're narcissistic. Or they only care about themselves. And we have evidence of this. We have evidence of people around us, constantly, that annoy us all the time because all they do is brag. And so, if they do have success in their life, they don't have a lot of friends, right? Because it's just not the social norm. It's not the thing that we do that is socially acceptable. So it's no wonder that people have such a difficulty advocating for themselves when they are putting themselves out there and they're actually told that they need to share about their accomplishments.
Another thing that came to mind is that, it is a lot easier to be self-deprecating than to brag. This is the classic example, when somebody gives you a compliment and you you deflect it, and you're like: 'Oh, that was just because my team was really good and I didn't really have to do as much work.' And so, instead of just saying 'thank you for the compliment', you deflect it. Because that is what we do. Because, even if somebody else is bragging for us, it feels uncomfortable. It triggers that part of us that just says modesty is the best way.
But in today's episode, I'm going to show you something a little bit different. I'm going to give you a different point of view on bragging.
So, if you're listening to today's episode and you have ever been told that you need to speak up more... Maybe you've been told that you need to share about your accomplishments... Yet, actually doing it seems near to impossible, especially without losing a part of yourself.
So, you don't want to be the narcissistic co-worker that brags about themselves all the time. You don't want to be the self-absorbed person that just seems like they're only out for themselves to get that promotion. That that's what they want above all costs. And they'll put anybody down on the way because they have to put themselves above the other person. So sort of like my daughter, who is putting my son down by bragging about her accomplishments. So that is very different than her just being genuinely enthusiastic and excited about her accomplishments.
So, the first way that I want to debunk this myth for you is I want you to understand something. When you are in senior executive leadership, when you transition from middle management or being seen as a subject matter expert into executive leadership, your job responsibility changes. It shifts at that point. So here is what I mean by that. As you continue to grow up the ladder. It is an expectation that you become a salesperson for yourself. So not necessarily a salesperson for the organization, but a sales person for your own leadership. That is how people get ahead in their career at those senior executive levels.
And it doesn't have to be sleazy. It doesn't have to be narcissistic. It doesn't have to be self-absorbed. Because here's the kicker: while modesty is the best course of action in most times of our life, in most ways, if you're too modest and you're expecting to get promoted into senior executive positions, the result will just be that you don't get promoted.
So let's think about it from a sales perspective. So, if you're a sales person and you don't talk about your product, you don't actually want to share about all the features and the accomplishments of your product and what it can do and the value that it can bring to the consumer, you're not going to have any sales. People are not going to buy your product.
Now, if you've ever met a really skillful salesperson, not the sleazy, bragging type of salesperson, but a really skillful salesperson, it feels good. And you know why it feels good to be sold to in that way? Like, you might even see through it. You might even see that this person is actually selling to you. But the reason that it feels good is because you trust them. I'll say that again, the reason that it feels so good to be sold to in a good way, when you meet a really solid salesperson, is because it instills trust. Because you're putting your money down and whatever product you're buying, you trust that it's going to deliver. You trust that that person is going to deliver for you.
So in today's episode, when I'm sharing with you about the concept of bragging in a good way, it is so that you can instill that trust in leadership that you can lead at that senior executive level.
Now, I want to give you another funny example of bragging going off the rails. Because there is so much in your brain against bragging that I just want to kind of laugh about it for a little bit.
So another example, and I actually found this example online from an article in Psychology Today about why not to brag. And it was saying that basically it's like you win a gold medal and it's great that you won a gold medal. And we're all very proud of your accomplishment. And it's OK to write that in your bio, to maybe share it a little bit on social media, something like that. But, it's not OK to wear the gold medal around your neck when you go to the grocery store. That is not socially acceptable. That is bragging in the worst sense of the word.
And the same thing goes for sharing your accomplishments at work. There is a time and a place for doing so that is appropriate. And then there's a time and a place and a way of doing it that is very inappropriate.
So you've probably experienced the inappropriateness, too. Which is that I'm going to put myself out there, I'm going to share about my accomplishments. Maybe you've even done this at a networking event. So you go to a networking event, you've got your elevator pitch ready, and you're going to meet somebody and they're going to say, what do you do? And you're like, well: 'I graduated from this, and I work at this organization. We're the top ranked...'.
And so you're doing this in a way that feels very braggy. And then the other person's looking at you like a deer in headlights. Their eyes popping out of their head, like: 'I can't wait to get out of this conversation as fast as possible.'
And it doesn't feel good because you notice it. You're like: 'Wow, that backfired. So now I'm never going to do it again.'
No. You just need to do it better. You just need to get better at it, and the way that we get better at it is by practicing.
So, I'm going to give you a couple of skills in today's episode that you can begin practicing right away. And I also want to give you an example from one of my clients where she was really able to learn how to share about her own accomplishments in a way that could really be her heard. A way that her boss could hear about her accomplishments, and it not only helped her career, but it also helped her self-esteem. It helped her confidence. And it helped her actually create more results for her organization.
So my client, I'm going to call her Sheryl, she's a vice president of human resources at her organization, and she actually reports directly up to the CEO. Sheryl is an amazing human resources director. She's really great at her job. But as part of our coaching process, I do a 360 interview with every single one of my clients. And I interviewed her boss, the CEO of the organization. And her boss really loves her. Thought she was really great. But then she said: 'You know, I would like to see more of her human resources expertise. If she is going to operate at the CHRO level, she's going to need to demonstrate more of an expertise in human resources.'.
So, I went back to my client. First of all, I didn't even say this, but she's extremely humble. She's just one of those people who is very soft spoken, definitely doesn't toot her own horn, would definitely put other people first before herself. But she was also tired of getting walked all over. She wanted to have a voice at the leadership table. She had a seat at the table, but she wanted her voice to be heard at the leadership table, which is why she hired a coach.
And so I told her this and she was very confused. Because she was like: 'I know a lot about H.R. Of course. I'm an expert. I know a lot. I have a very strong background. I have a large network. I make conclusions, not based on hunches, but on real evidence. And I asked her, I probed a little bit deeper, and I said: 'Do you ever share this with your boss?'.
And she was like: 'Well, no. I just share my answers. I just share my results, like my ideas. I don't share, like, the people in my network and how I come up with these ideas.'.
And so I coached her to actually start to show her work. So what she had to do was she had to go back to her boss, over time, and sliding it into several different conversations. Talking about the HR networks that she belonged to. Sharing with her boss how she came up with some of these conclusions, how she came up with these ideas, where she did her research, so that her boss could see her as the human resources expert.
So she was building trust. And it worked like that. Right. It worked so quickly because it was so obvious. Once she started sharing this information, her boss just instantly saw her as an expert. She started to build that trust immediately. And what happened? My client started to feel more confident. Her boss started to call on her more in the leadership meetings. My client realized other areas where she wasn't speaking up. So she started to speak up. And then eventually she started to do a lot of work on her own. Really taking big initiatives, not waiting to be told what to do. Essentially, she started operating at that CHRO level.
So this, my friends, is the power of bragging about your accomplishments as long as it's done in the right way.
So, I talked about how sales and marketing becomes part of your job description as you advance into senior executive leadership positions. So, I want to give you just three tips right off the bat about what I have learned throughout my life about sales and actually sharing about the value that I bring through coaching into my prospects so that they can feel that trust and actually buy that product from me.
So this is really genuinely from my own experience through learning about selling. And then it's also through the experience of teaching my clients how they can begin to be better advocates for themselves. Because we can't depend on other people to advocate for us. We have to find a way to start tooting our own horn. And we don't have to lose ourselves in the process. And we can get the result of finally getting the recognition that we deserve.
So the three things, the three techniques from sales that I want you to start doing when you're thinking about bragging about your accomplishments is: #1: Be direct. #2: Add value. And #3: Own it. These are the three core principles that, if you do that, then you won't come off as narcissistic. You will come off as confident. You will come off as a c-suite executive leader.
So the first one is being direct. Now, it is so imperative that you have professional development conversations with your boss. And I'm actually holding my head right now because this is something that so many people lose sight of. They don't do it often enough.
So the first thing that I want you to do is just share that you are interested in a senior executive position someday, right? It's not an ultimatum. It's asking your boss, what would you need to see me demonstrate if you were to sponsor me for a senior executive position? So it's putting your desire out there in a super straightforward way. Don't beat around the bush. Don't be shady. Just be super, super direct. So that is being direct about your desires for getting promoted.
And the second thing I want you to be direct about is what you're seeing. So if you see something, say something. So how many of you have ever been in a meeting and seen a problem like a red flashing light at you? And you're like: 'Oh, my gosh. This is such a huge problem and I know a solution. I know a way to solve this problem.'
So you're going to raise your hand. You're going to offer solutions to problems. You're going to add ideas, you're going to ask questions. You're going to be a part of the conversation. So this is showing your knowledge, it's showing your ideas, and it's sharing them in a way that's not saying you have to choose my idea, but it's saying I have ideas and I'm not afraid to speak up – a quality of all c-suite executives. They must not be afraid to speak up. So if you start doing that at whatever level you're at now, you'll start to build that trust that you can lead at that higher executive level.
So the second piece is value. I kind of spoke to it in the last one, which is that you're actually offering solutions, right? You're adding ideas. You're adding real value to every single conversation. Now, so many people will say to me: 'But I don't really know what to say, and I don't know.' And I always comes back to, but what do you know?
So figure out before you go into any meeting with the executive team, any meeting with your boss, any meeting with a member of the leadership team. I want you to know what is the #1 thing that I want to get out of this conversation? And if that thing is, is to show them your work or your passion or your desire about something, then make sure that those are the areas that you start speaking up about.
And then the third piece is own it. So you're going to get out there and you're going to own it. You're going to own your confidence, you're going to own the fact that you matter, that it matters to have you in a senior executive leadership position.
Now, I talked about myself and if I was trying to sell something... I went through this for a while, I felt very scared to be direct. I felt scared to add value. I felt scared to own it on a conversation, on a sales conversation. And then I realized super quickly that it was a necessary part of the deal. The same goes for senior executive leadership. It is part of the deal.
Now, here is a for a fun bonus tip for you. Storytell. Share stories.
So when I was speaking earlier about the person at the networking event who just goes up to somebody and lists off their bio and the other person's listening and they're like a deer in headlights. It's because they're literally just listing off their bio. they're literally just sharing bullet points. No, I want you to share a story. I want you to share a time of something that happened.
Another example is my client who works in human resources that I was telling you about. She's not just going to say to her boss: 'I belong to three HR networking groups...' She's going to say: 'In my HR networking group last week, we were actually talking about retention. And one of the things that I brought up was an idea that I've been sharing with you, X, Y, Z.' So you see where I'm going. It's a story. It's not bragging. You're just sharing what you're proud of.
So, I hope that you're listening to me today and I hope that this is sinking in. That it is part of your job description at the senior executive level to share about your accomplishments. And the only way you're going to get to the senior executive level is to share about your accomplishments.
So if you're somebody who grew up thinking smart people don't brag or you're just showing off or don't to your own horn. That's fine. It's OK. But just know when you are at work and you're trying to get ahead (and actually, not just when you're trying to get ahead in your career, but at all times) it's part of your job to show your work, to share your accomplishments and to put yourself out there in a way that adds value to your boss, to your organization, to the leadership team, so that they can get you promoted. So that that you can build trust, that you can lead at that higher executive level.
So put yourself out there, be bold, be strong, and I'll see you next week.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Women Changing Leadership with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.