When I was in the first grade I walked right up to the drama teacher and informed her that, henceforth, I should be the lead in all student productions. She looked at me as if I were a dead gnat in her ice cream.

I learned something that day. Or so I thought. I learned that self-promotion is frowned upon.
So I stopped doing it.

Clay Shirky thinks that I should start doing it again. In a fascinating essay in which he all but endorses lying as a way to make it to the top, he says that women suck at overstating their abilities and self-aggrandizement.

It's like he punched me in the gut, virtually.

I have spent the last year immersed in more self-promotion than I care to admit. In the name of getting Tweetajob off the ground, I have:

~Volunteered to speak at conferences
~Written articles for industry websites and publications
~Gone on TV to talk about social media
~Been interviewed for videos and podcasts
~Asked folks to mention me/Tweetajob in their blogs or Twitterstream
~Nominated Tweetajob for awards
~Said self-serving stuff in sales meetings
~Thrown myself a party
~Written my own press releases
~Taken a foxy mall pic, to appear more professional
~Nearly tackled a venture capitalist, insisting he see my demo
~Blogged, commented, chatted, Twittered and Facebooked about myself/Tweetajob incessantly

And still, it's not enough. I don't know how long I do this without hurling up my copy of Crush It.

I have long fooled myself into believing that skill, knowledge, passion for the work are just rewards. But we don't live -- and we certainly don't work -- in utopian meritocracies. The truth is, I have winced as many less talented people - men and women - pole vaulted off my back to get the spoils. These people were good at making sure they got what they wanted.

So, even as I rail my fists at Mr. Shirky, I am stepping up my self-aggrandizement program. I have to. I have waded into the pool of internet startups, dominated by men with lots of practice overstating their abilities. I have chosen to swim with the sock puppets. In the process, I am likely to piss some people off. I'm sure some of my Facebook friends have "hidden" me. I will be unfollowed.

Small price to pay. Tweetajob is frickin' awesome. It is the future of job posting. It kicks ass and leaves its competition in the dust. Unfollow me if you must. I don't care. I care about the thousands - maybe millions - of folks who might get a job because they can get job tweets to their mobile phones. If it takes a bit of hyperbole to make this happen, so be it.

By the way, have you voted for Tweetajob in the Shorty Awards?

Views: 88

Comment by Fran Hogan on January 20, 2010 at 9:04am
Hi Carmen,
Good post - your frustration is jumping off the page! IMHO your drama teacher missed out on the opportunity to work with a talented student with the confidence to become a star-quality lead. I don’t think she taught you the right lesson.

I think Clay Sharkey got a little carried away with his post which distracts from the message he’s trying to get across. You don’t have to be a self-promoting narcissist, arrogant, anti-social obsessive, pompous blowhard or a self-aggrandizing jerk to advance your career. There is truth in his statements that we live in a world where women (and many others) are discriminated against. However, being aggressive may get you noticed but it’s not the only way to become successful.

Clay’s statement “It’s tempting to imagine that women could be forceful and self-confident without being arrogant or jerky, but that’s a false hope”……is just plain silly. Yes, it is other people who get to decide if you are a jerk, but the example he goes on to describe of his friend who recommended her own work was far from arrogant or jerky.

Your frustration at the slow start of your business is probably more likely caused by the economy. Anyone with the guts to start a business in this climate deserves to promote themselves. You believe in your business and you believe in yourself…..don’t let the turkeys get you down.
Comment by Joshua Letourneau on January 20, 2010 at 12:20pm
Good post, Carmen. I'm with you that, at some point, you have to be willing to polarize people. It's life - if you take a stance someone doesn't agree with, that's how it goes. And taking a stance opens the floodgate to criticism, but such is how the game is played. At least you have the guts to step out and have a voice.

In the same breath, you have to be willing to evangelize your product and not only say it's the creme' de la creme', but make it so. If you, as the entrepreneur, don't have passion, nobody else will. And in the early stages, you're really selling yourself and your belief in your product, right? :)

To your comment about seeing others get ahead, I don't know if you're speaking from the vantage point of an employee, or perhaps something else. But I believe you're describing the notion of "Social Capital".

There are 2 schools of thought about social capital - one endorses socioeconomic position (i.e." you have little control over your position as you're largely born into it", and/or "why the rich continue to get richer"), while the other endorses network self-positioning (i.e. the concept that you can, in some ways, enhance your network position to gain more social capital.)

The truth is that social capital is extremely important because we rarely get ahead on our own. In a bit of self-aggrandizement, we might want to believe so, but success takes the help of others . . . just as we reach out to help them be successful as well :)

I wish you the best of luck evangelizing your solution and hope to see you make it a success :)


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