How to brag without sounding like a horse’s ass

There’s a right way and a wrong way to “boast” (which I call branding) about your achievements. No one wants to listen to an egomaniacal idiot. That’s a given. Saying you have never failed at anything and that everything you do is great and then some is rot. Yet there are lots of people around like that. Never believing you are wrong is another trait of stupidly egotistical people.

I once dated a guy like that. He always had an argument and an insult for everything. He would be pleased when he insulted me and thought he won. What he didn’t get was that every time he did he really lost. He was quickly headed for the deterioration of a relationship and didn’t see it. His ego got in the way. That’s the wrong way to boast.

Another way is to try too hard to convince people about your greatness. If you are impressive people will see it. You don’t have to push people into liking you. In fact, an upper echelon in the business I recently bought into impressed me by her past and current accomplishments. She has a good balance between communicating about her achievements without alienating people.

One way she does this is in joking about herself a little. Not to the point of undermining herself but enough to let people know she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She is also informing others about her success to let them know they can accomplish the same achievements and that her success isn’t based on “magic”, that anyone can do it. That’s a good approach to “bragging.”

How not to brag:

Stating that you were the best employee at your last job
Placing your job performance above everyone else’s
Comparing yourself to Jesus
Acting like Madonna

Ricky Gervais, in his role of David Brent, the jackass boss of The Office, played a classic role of a braggart with nothing to substantiate it. In fact his entire office disdained him and he was clueless about it. That’s what made his character so laughable and helped to make the series a success. In this scene Brent has been fired but at the same time compares himself to Jesus. (He and John Lennon have something in common).He gives his former employees pep talks about not being too devastated now that he is leaving the firm when of course, they’re glad he’s going. I love Brent for his stupidity. He is a satirical example of how not to brag.

Unless you’re a famous comedian who hosts the Emmy’s and the Golden Globes every year. Then you can say anything you want.


How to kill an entrepreneur


It’s not that I blame parents and education for diminishing self-esteem or confidence entirely. I am, after all, a schoolteacher and I take pride in that. We love to showcase children’s accomplishments and the part that might interfere with creativity is truly not our choice. We, like millions of professionals in this world, must do as we are told. The Robin Williams’ of this world are the exception not the rule. They are also fictional. And in the end of Dead Poets Society, he was fired.

Creativity and self-esteem is crucial for the entrepreneur. In fact the entrepreneur is one of the most creative of all business professionals. The fact of the matter is she has probably been wildly creative and successful in her artistic endeavours since elementary school, when her abilities were admired. Her thinking was off-beat, it ventured off the “beaten path.” Something happened in her later years in school, and it convinced her that she wasn’t as talented or that her talent had no use.

There is an artistic exercise I have used with my class where the teacher passes around an ordinary object such as a pencil. The children’s job is to imagine another use for the object  I passed around a pencil in a grade 3 class. They came up with fabulous and funny ideas. The paper clip story may be a hoax since it originated from a lesson experiment in a research study. Kindergarten children were asked to find new uses for a paper clip and their ideas were incredible. Grade 7 students were asked to do the same and their ideas were limited. Here’s a great idea for a box of junior mints.

When teachers and parents talk about the fine arts they state with confidence that those accomplishment aren’t important because “that’s not what gets people jobs.” That’s the beginning of the end of a budding entrepreneur.

Our perspective on the usefulness of the arts is limited. We don’t consider that Pixar was created when science met art. All entrepreneurs need creativity and imagination or there wouldn’t be entrepreneurs. Imagine how dull this world would be without them. Not to mention terribly behind the times. Yes Facebook and LinkedIn came from a science but it was a creative thinker that invented social media.

Think about that the next time someone tells you that you can’t draw, sing, dance or write poetry. Think about that the next time someone tells you that your business idea won’t work. What do unimaginative people know about making a living from something unorthodox? Nothing. Because a long time ago, we all stole it from them. And when these kids become adults with an entrepreneurial bent, we discourage them from letting their good ideas take them to a new level of success. Apparently we don’t just fail in school. We fail life lessons too.