Make Sure Your Brand Is Classy Not Assy










By Colleen Walsh Fong


Promoting is a big part of growing your business and using content for branding is one way to do it. Promoting yourself within a business is important for career advancement, too. The way you choose to promote your business and yourself says a lot about you.


Gloating Vs. Promoting


Do you have that one coworker who has to make everything about her? Or him, as the case may be? He’s the Michael Scott of your office, making coworkers’ weddings about how important the event is to him. Or the woman who snaps out a baby picture of her 23-year old “child” when coworkers gather round to see the one of an actual, current baby another office mate just brought into the world.


“You think that’s bad, wait until you hear what happened to me!” seems always to be on the tips of these people’s tongues. And they never seem to get that other people don’t like it when you steal their thunder. We all like to have our moments in the sun.


The amateur psychologist in me chalks this kind of behavior up to insecurity. It usually seems to come from people who feel unaccomplished or are so afraid that no one else will compliment their achievements that they have to bring them to everyone’s attention. The sad part is that people who constantly jump into the limelight create a vicious cycle in which their acts are overlooked. Others avoid mentioning their good deeds because they’re afraid they’ll have to listen to another round of bragging.


Most great and cool things will get noticed organically if the creator gives others a chance to bring them up. And the compliments made by others will have more credence than the ones people give to themselves. This is not to say that you should never engage in self-promotion. Most people in business must promote themselves to some degree. We just shouldn’t do it at another person’s expense, and should always leave room for other’s to have their times to shine.


Steve W. Martin, (not that Steve Martin) who teaches sales strategies at the University of Southern California, cites modesty/humility as being the number one trait of successful sales people in an article he wrote for the Harvard Business Review. It’s based upon several years of research. Before I even read the article I knew that I prefer the company of the humble to those who are always tooting their own horns.


Give Every Dude His Day


Take Kanye West, for example. I’m not sure I can say that he is insecure but he certainly isn’t humble. He may just suffer from being surrounded by sycophants who sing his praises night and day. But let’s contrast his recent behavior at the Grammy’s with that of another superstar, Paul McCartney. I’d say Paul has a pretty healthy ego and a good measure of confidence in his abilities and products.


And as much as I love Paul, I think he may have been overconfident a few times, like when he made the “Magical Mystery Tour” movie, or when he recorded a few of his Wings songs like “Someone’s Knocking at the Door,” or “Cook of the House.” Those could have benefitted from the veto power the other Beatles would have exercised if he’d still had to run them through the Fab filter. Or when he decided to collaborate with Kanye. But on the whole he’s produced a huge and highly acclaimed body of work over a period of more than 50 years.


He has also had sheer tons of adulation heaped upon him his entire professional life, so I’m sure some of his idolizers could be categorized as suck-ups.


While Jeff Lynn and the ELO played “Medieval Woman” McCartney was caught on camera dancing and singing along. And I mean it when I say that Paul was caught because the camera stayed on him and kept him on TV screens instead of the featured performer. Did you see that? Well whoever was standing next to Paul did, and pointed his attention to the in-house jumbotron. So McCartney immediately sat down.


Why? Because he didn’t want to steal another performer’s moment. That’s called class, with the “cl” firmly in place.


Pedigree Vs. Donkey


Now to Kanye. Later in the show Beck won the best album award, beating out Beyonce, another class act. Believe it or not I almost never watch the Grammy’s, but it was impossible to miss the clip of Kanye West jumping onto the stage to protest the choice of Taylor Swift over Beyonce for best video in 2009. For what it’s worth I prefer Beyonce to Taylor. Don’t hate on me if you like Taylor better. It’s just personal choice. But West’s behavior was inappropriate at best, and everyone from Beyonce to President Obama criticized him for it.


So I was stunned when he made for the stage again after Beck’s win this year. Of course, he made it out to be a joke, and it was kind of funny. Beck remained gracious and said he was just honored to have Kanye on the stage with him.


But the truth is that Kanye West is that guy in the office who has to make everything about him. What he thinks. How he feels. His opinion. Him, him, and more him. As a marketing technique it’s worked pretty well. People are definitely talking about him. And since his wife has made a career out of successfully planting her face and other body parts in front of every camera she can find, I guess it’s part of the family business. But I would call it being classy without the “cl.”


And I definitely don’t suggest it as a business technique or a good way to win friends and influence people as the late Dale Carnegie so famously put it. I defer again to Professor Martin whose research shows humility to be a winning trait.


No matter how tempted you may be to toot your own horn, remember the Grammy’s and keep the “cl” in your class act.



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