Sunday, August 13, 2006


Yesterday, I ran into a pretty cool person whom I wish I were better friends with. Among the many things that we discussed, we talked about how self-promotion seems to go a long way. Like the old philosophical debate goes: If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to see it, did the tree fall? It is the same way with success. If success happens and no one is there to see it… In that vein, I think a little bit of self-promotion is necessary. You don’t want to close the big deal at work and let no one know about it. Some of the people who are your peers now could be your future employers so it would be wise to let them know that you have done some good work. Having said that; self-promotion is necessary and important. However, I think that it is all too tempting for people to report that they closed the big deal when it was really a routine deal. Moreover, it is far easier to contrive success stories all together or exaggerate another’s flaws than it is to do real work.

The most note-worthy examples of the use of exaggeration comes from my days as an aluminum-foundry employee. There was a third-shift group leader who earned the nickname God because of his unceasing self-promotion and belittling of other people’s work. He was the highest paid employee in the factory not because he did the best or most work. He got his raises because he ran to the department supervisor who worked first shift and told him about how little was done on second shift and how he made sure that we third-shift employees got everything caught up.

One of the most striking examples of contrived success comes from a martial arts instructor I know. He started a martial arts organization lest just call it the Made-up Martial Arts Association or the MMAA. Then, he establishes a championship tournament with the divisions organized in such a way that he is guaranteed a victory and a title. Therefore, he becomes the MMAA Master’s Light-Heavyweight Division World Champion.

I suppose that there might be more ways to self-promote. I just wanted to cover what I see happen most often. Granted, these examples are pretty striking. However, I have never worked a job that didn’t have an exaggerator and/or contriver. Typically exaggerator’s just try to bring into sharp relief other’s flaws, and contrivers just make stuff up. It is rare that a contriver will go thtough the trouble of giving the appearance of legitimacy.