Well, there´s nothing like a professional blogger who offers expert advice and then takes her own two steps backwards. The other day I regaled you with the wonderful wisdom of Peggy Klaus, author of Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn, particularly the "bragologue," a story encompassing your personal achievements and success. So, this morning I had a piece in the Chicago Tribune, my daily paper. I told a friend at the gym about the article and then went on to tell her about another article I read (but didn´t write) in yesterday´s paper. That article was about Annie Proulx, author of the short story on which the "Brokeback Mountain" is based, and how upset-"peeved"-she was because "Crash," a great movie by the way, won the Oscar. Okay, so when my friend left the gym she came up to me and said, "Where´s the article again?" and I proceeded to direct her to the Annie Proulx piece. "No, no, your piece, Leslie," she said.
Oh, right, okay. I told her sort of sheepishly and then immediately thought of Peggy´s bragologue and how I would need to pay more attention to what she says. Does any of this sound familiar? Employee development, certainly the formal programs into which companies often pour thousands, is a dicey business. Will any of it stick? Can people really learn to do things that are, at first, counter-intuitive, such as speaking up about one´s achievements?
I sense an exercise here, something that will help us all become authors of our own various bragologues. (There´s no rule that says we can´t have more than one, right?) I call it "30 Seconds of Fame" though I´ve heard others refer to it as the "elevator speech." At a staff meeting, ask your people to come up with a 30-second script that describes what they do or how well they do something on the job. After the eye rolling and groaning explain the importance of the exercise in this way: no one can tell our stories better than whom? You guessed it: you. You know your strengths, you know how hard it is to achieve certain milestones, and you know what it´s like to overcome a million obstacles no matter how picayune they may seem to someone else. But you have to believe it and you have to say it like you believe it.
Here´s one of the most important points we can learn from Peggy Klaus: demonstrating enthusiasm for what you do. She writes, "I knew instinctively that if I couldn´t get excited about my accomplishments, no one else would. There were just too many stories around competing for airtime." But once she began to incorporate her bragologue into her interviews something extraordinary happened. "When I started selling myself using this subtle and story like approach, the results were immediate and amazing," she says. "Suddenly there was a real difference in the way my audience-agents, managers, casting directors, network executives, even my competition-responded. They sat up with ears perked. They not only wanted to listen to me, they asked for more."
If you want people to know more about your company, you need to give them a reason to ask. Start out with a great story, one that piques their interest, and one that contains a descriptive detail that they´re unlikely to hear elsewhere, one that´s worthy of a bragologue.