“Don’t be humble, you’re not good enough.”

October 29, 2007 § Leave a comment

No, I’m not picking on you, I’m quoting an old mentor of mine, Archie Rand. Archie is an artist and teacher and walking encyclopedia of art history (and music history for that matter). I don’t know if the line is his originally, but it is a gem I’ve hung on to for over 17 years, since I was a long-haired MFA candidate with more paint on my clothes than on my canvases. And no, Archie wasn’t picking on me either – he was giving me a gift, and in a way paying me a compliment. His point was that none of us is so good that we should just rest on our laurels or risk being passed over for the sake of mere modesty. Think about the most talented, successful people on the planet – what do they have in common? A publicist.

“Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” That’s a risky strategy when Inferior-Mousetraps-R-Us has a weekly newsletter, a larger sales force, better distribution, and a keynote at the next cheddar cheese conference. No matter how talented you are, no matter how top-notch your team, or how world-beating your business process is, a little self-promotion, a gentle reminder, even a bit of selective bragging can do you a world of good. Think first: think about who you are, how you want to be perceived, how you bring value and can genuinely benefit the customers you serve, but don’t think you’re doing anything wrong by telling people about your skills, experience and successes.

And if you find yourself the target of praise (lavish or otherwise) don’t be the one “who dost protest too much.” Instead, take the advice of another sage, my late grandmother: “Say thank you, and sit down.”

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