You Don’t Need To Get Better At Self Promotion, You Need To Get Better At Life

2014 May 19

Recently, I tweeted:

“Everyone wants to know how you got from A to B, but they hate it when the answer is “Worked hard and had talent.”

“I COULD give you “five easy steps to get from A to B,” but you’re gonna pitch a fit when step 1 is “Learn how to excel at being a human.”

A couple of months ago, I watched both seasons of The Pickup Artist. I joke about hunting down Mystery and teaming up to do a book on applying PUA wisdom to the corporate world*, but the show actually provided a huge amount of food for thought. You only need to watch a couple of episodes to understand how easily taught self-promotion truly is. Take a room of hapless, dateless schlubs and give them makeovers, a few canned lines and a little training in using and decoding body language. In short order, even the most gun-shy guy among them could stroll into a club and hold a woman’s attention for 3 – 5 minutes. The fly in the ointment was that most of these guys had issues that ran deeper than being nervous around the opposite sex, so while they learned how to promote themselves like pros, they never really worked on becoming the type of well-rounded men women would continue to be interested in or engaged by after their small talk material ran out. That’s the part that doesn’t fit neatly in a 22-minute episode.

Most of us aren’t looking for advice that includes hard work and introspection. We want a list of steps and a guarantee that if we follow them, we’ll get what we want. If you just do these three things, you can lose 20 lbs this month or get a job at Google or attract more women. No one wants to accept that there might not be a shortcut and we might not be able to achieve X, because we lack the requisite skill set or dedication. It’s uncomfortable to look inward and accept that all the tips in the world aren’t going to land us a dream job if we don’t have the qualifications, attitude and work ethic demanded by employers. It’s much easier to focus on how to massage the language of our cover letter than it is to face the fact we have to work harder and get better at our chosen craft in order to make the cut. That’s not fun or sexy or easy like scoring a cell number from a drunk sorority girl.

If you’re not getting the results you want in life, it might not be because you suck at self promotion or lack connections, it might be because you need to work on what it is you’re attempting to promote – yourself.


*Only semi-joking. Mystery should call me.


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