For as long as I can remember, I have had a really hard time talking about my accomplishments.
We’re talking all the way back to elementary school, where kids have no filter and just tell it like it is. Whenever anyone would ask me how I did on the test, I’d say, “Oh, I passed.” I never shared the fact that I got the highest grade in the class.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, If You Want to Sell Your Skills, You Gotta Sasha Fierce Yourself, you’ve got to be able to sell your skills or no one will ever know how important your role is and what exactly you bring to the table. If no one knows, you’ll get passed up for well-deserved promotions and, more importantly, you won’t be able to share your amazingness with the world.
You may think that you don’t contribute much to your job or your family. As Danielle LaPorte writes, “You could be taking your genius for granted.” The reality is that you are more than likely downplaying and/or completely overlooking your strengths and everything you do on the regular because it's all so ubiquitous to you. Nothing is farther from the truth. No one sees the world the way you do, given your specific set of experiences, education, talents, and passions. No one is you and that is your power.
I guess that’s one of the reasons why I love Hip Hop music. I love how emcees get on the mic and talk about how they’re the illest, the dopest lyricist, how they’ve got all the money in the world, and how they’re always gonna stay on top. Truth be told, that’s visualization. That’s affirmation. That’s harnessing the power of thoughts and words to create worlds. Never mind that, especially at the beginning, most of them are far from the abundance of which they speak. That doesn’t stop them from telling everyone who will listen who they are, what they’re about, and what they came to do.
And they never cringe either.
They speak their truth, their dreams, their worth. Bravely.
I’m going to teach you how to do the same. Here are four things you can do to prepare yourself for talking to others about how you’re the best that ever did it:
1. Reframe the way you think about giving yourself credit.
A lot of times we shy away from giving ourselves props because it feels like bragging. We learned from a very young age that bragging is wrong. You’ve got to get over this, Honey Bunny. Don’t think of giving yourself credit as bragging. Think of it as stating facts.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with stating facts.
In fact, it’s actually necessary and expected. When you’re updating your boss on how the project is going, you’re expected to give real-time facts and updates. That definitely includes talking about the success of the project. If you want more budget dollars allocated to the project, you’ve got show why it deserves to be put at the top of the list. If not, it’s in jeopardy of getting cut.
The same goes for you.
It’s not cocky for you to state facts on how you’ve contributed to every company you’ve ever worked for or the education that you paid for in blood, sweat, tears, and money. Shooo, you’ve got the loans to prove it, so you might as well talk about what you learned while you were there.
2. That being said, it’s really hard to state facts when you haven’t been keeping track of them. People tend to only update their resumes when they’re looking for a job. No bueno.
Your new best practice is to take copious notes on what you’re doing, projects you’ve worked on, ad hoc projects that you were asked to work on, etc. Open up a Google doc and keep score. This includes any time you helped someone out, stayed late to turn in a report under deadline, presented to the C Suite, etc. No matter how big or small.
This will give you a big boost of confidence when you’re thinking about raising your hand for a promotion, applying for your dream job, and mentoring the next generation of bad asses. Also, it will help you identify transferable skills and craft cover letters, resumes, 60 second elevator pitches, etc. You won’t waste precious time racking your brain trying to recall all you’ve done. It’ll already be at your fingertips.
Furthermore, translate what you do into dollars as much as possible.
When you’re stating facts, money talks and bullshit walks. If you can show how your participation in a project, department, function saved money or made money, you need to make sure that amount is written down somewhere and highlighted. If you are responsible for a P&L line item forecasted to come in at $235 MM, that’s a huge responsibility and needs to be included as well.
Are you a stay at home parent?
No worries. I got you, boo. Running a household is much like running a company and you’ve got to put numbers around that, too. You’re the chef, nanny, housekeeper, chauffeur, logistics coordinator, tutor, accountant, life coach, motivational speaker. The list goes on and on. Research annual salaries for these roles in your area. Keep track of how much time you spend on each task and then create a time-weighted salary.
Here’s a simple example:
Let’s say you have four main tasks and you divide your time evenly between all four (in other words, 25% for each task) --
- Logistics Coordinator (you run a tight ship!)
- Accountant (those bills don't pay themselves!)
- 5 Star Chef (you could give Rachael Ray a run for her money!)
- Life Coach (you're motivating your honey and your kiddos!)
You've done your homework and researched the average salary for each position. You're now ready to bust out your calculator.
You’ll create your time-weighted salary by multiplying the percentage of time spent by each average salary and then adding them all together.
(0.25)(44,498) + (0.25)(68,150) + (0.25)(71,063) + (0.25)(47,900) = $57,903
Look at that number. Don’t you ever look down on yourself for staying at home to raise your family, Honey Bunny. Assign a dollar amount to all you do and realize that you are contributing that amount to your family’s economy. Without your valuable contribution, your family would not run as efficiently as it does.
You can also do this for your volunteer work as well to get a sense of what you're bringing to the table.
3. Let others do the bragging for you.
As I mentioned in my Sasha Fierce post, ask trusted friends and colleagues to tell you how you add value to their lives. You can create a Google Form and send it out. For colleagues, you can use this assessment as a starting point.
Ask your family members what kinds of things you were into and gravitated towards when you were a little kid, when you did things just because and not because you “should.”
4. Create a Compliments Document.
To help you keep track of what others say about you, create a Compliments Document in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Keep track of any compliment that you receive -- personal or professional, no matter how big or small. You can look thru this when you are feeling down.
This document will help you think of next steps in your career or life. What people praise you for tends to be a sign from the Universe about what you’re here to do. Believe it or not, when I was a Senior Financial Analyst, people would come to me and ask me for life and career advice. Without me asking or broadcasting my gifts, they would literally seek me out for advice, encouragement, and a friendly ear to listen to them.
Be on the lookout for these moments in your own life. They can point you in the direction your heart wants to go.
Let’s face it, boo: you’re probably not the next Drake and you probably struggle with giving yourself credit and talking about all of the great things you’re up to.
Practice makes perfect and it’s super important to keep tabs on everything that you’re contributing to all areas of your life, no matter big or small.
This way, when someone asks you what it is exactly you do, you won’t draw a blank because you’re constantly thinking about it and documenting it.
You are here for a reason and your life has meaning. Don’t let lack of preparation or feelings of inadequacy keep you from shining like the star you are. Think about what you’re up to in your personal and professional worlds. Experiment with different ways of communicating the value that you add or the accomplishments that you’ve achieved. The more you practice, the less you’ll be like a deer in headlights when the time comes to actually talk about what you do and who you are.
Now it's your turn. Comment below and give me your 60 second elevator pitch.
I’m cheering for you. Like you’re being interviewed on Ellen.
From the Front Row,
P/S I'm up to something major. Want to find out more about it when the time is right? Of course you do! CLICK HERE.