Start Bragging. Your Career Might Depend on it.

I would guess that it is commonly believed that nothing turns people off as fast as bragging. However, based on the number of magazine articles and books written lately about bragging, it seems nothing turns people “on” as fast as bragging.

“Brag doesn’t have to be a distasteful four-letter word,” writes Peggy Klaus in her book “Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It”, “[but] to see bragging in this way means we have to wipe the slate clean and drop our preconceived notions.”

Klaus tries to disassociate bragging from the shameless self-promoter that every company has, who frequently reminds everyone how hard he is working, how much he has accomplished, and just how busy he is.

Instead, Klaus coaches that “learning to brag is not about becoming something you aren’t or trying to put something over on someone. [It’s about] bringing forward your best parts with authenticity, pride, and enthusiasm.” For example, a savvy bragger would respond “I help advise senior executives of Fortune 500 companies on takeover defense strategies against hostile investors for a major Wall Street investment bank” when asked what they do, instead of simply saying, “I work for an investment bank.”

Klaus is a communications coach who has spent nearly a decade advising some of America’s top Fortune 500 executives in the art of self-presentation and promotion. Klaus long list of clients includes such names as Levi Strauss, Disney, JP Morgan Chase, and General Mills.

Klaus’ mission, which she is pursuing with evangelical spirit, is to stamp out what she calls bragging myths. Tops on her list of bragging myths is the old notion that a job well done speaks for itself. “The days of job security in exchange for loyalty and hard work are long gone,” writes Klaus. “Given the constant changes – mergers, management shifts, downsizing – you simply must let people in the organization know who you are and what you are accomplishing.”

To help ensure that your career doesn’t get lost in the black hole of corporate obscurity, Klaus recommends building a “bragolgue” – that is, a free flowing litany of accomplishments that can be conveyed in story-like fashion. Klaus also recommends figuring out what’s so good about you, stepping into the spotlight, and not letting your resume speak for you to help you get ahead by getting noticed.

Klaus does warn to be careful what you brag about, particularity in the digital age. “Misrepresenting, accomplishments, and not giving credit where credit is due, runs rampant in the corporate world,” notes Klaus. It is just as easy for a person to forward an email as it is for you to send one. “So you’d better start choosing your words wisely and share the credit, [or] you’ll find your bragging bytes might come back to bite you.”
The choice whether to brag or not in Klaus’ estimation is not really a choice at all – it’s a necessity. Remaining mum in today’s cutthroat business world or corporate free agents will only lead to being “underappreciated and overlooked.”

So if you fill like you deserve credit but are too humble to ask for it, you might just have to abandon your parent’s advice about being modest, and take Klaus’ – start bragging!

April 11, 2005
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