If I ask you what are the top three great achievements of your life, it is likely that you will be thrown, at least at first. And then you will take some time to gather your thoughts and then be able to enumerate them. (Statistics say that women will find it harder to talk about their accomplishments than men will) But what if you ran into your CEO in the elevator and he asked you what has your best work been recently? Can you afford to be tongue tied for a few seconds while you think of the answer? That’s a great opportunity lost. What about meeting new people and starting afresh? That’s even more challenging, right? Well! Peggy Klaus’ Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing it comes to the rescue!
I wish I had come across this book 3 years ago when I was learning the basics of personal branding. But then, in the last few years, it has all been about branding oneself online. Peggy Klaus’s book is a beautiful masterpiece on branding yourself in person, living up to the image you’ve created when you actually meet people.
Peggy’s inspiration to write the book has been her own hesitation to talk about her accomplishments when she first started out. The premise of the book is, and I agree, that women are always discouraged from speaking about themselves in a positive light. Also, her experience with other women confirmed this. And she started workshops for women to help them brand themselves. For men who are about to complain why they are excluded, you have this book!
Klaus, a communication expert, is way ahead of her times. The book was written in 2003 when the term personal branding wasn’t even coined. No wonder, Klaus’s terminology is refreshing yet relevant even today.
You can do complete justice only by reading this book from cover to cover but here are 5 things that I loved in the book. And will apply the tips in my real life too:
1. Bragging is important: Talking about yourself is important because just doing your job well isn’t enough in competitive times like ours. Humility is great but that wouldn’t get you noticed. And don’t expect others to do it for you.
2. Why is this book so relevant now: Every event/party we go to becomes an opportunity to network. “What do you do?” is a question as common at networking events as it is in cocktail parties. And the right answer can actually open new doors for you. And the book prepares you for all kinds of situations – chatting up with a co-passenger on the plane or a class reunion, being an entrepreneur or in between jobs.
3. Build your “Brag Bag”: The “Take 12” self evaluation quiz is one of the most important take aways of this book. The 12 questions help you brainstorm and explore all aspects of your personal and professional achievements. You, then, add stories and colourful details to your experiences and your “Brag Bag” is ready. A bag full of your experiences and achievements ready to pick the relevant one when the need arises.
4. Case studies and examples: The book is not just a list of do’s and don’ts. But like Peggy’s book on soft skills, this one is also full of real life case studies and responses to actual bragging situations we come across. And there are so many of them that you’ll find something to fit pretty much every situation.
5. Brag nags: The book ends with brag nags – additional tips about bragging. Your brag bag might contain extraordinary feats but some other things are equally important. For instance, great first impression, passion and energy when you talk about yourself and being your best when you don’t feel like it. This chapter is a must read for the rest of the tips.
Here are 3 bonus tips from the book:
1. Keep your brag bag fresh: This is one thing Peggy really emphasises on. When was the last time you updated your resume or put down a list of noteworthy things you have done as a team member? And this is not a job to be done just before an appraisal, says Peggy.
2. Create Bragalogues or brag bites: I love the terms that she has created. Bragalogues are longer versions of your accomplishments derived from your brag bag. Or they can be tiny brag bites to just drop into conversations. This prepares you pick relevant information from your bag when required.
3. Customise your brag bites: The whole purpose of working on your brag bag is to be prepared for all situations. But it is equally important to understand your audience and the kind of event you are in. A cocktail party isn’t a great time to launch into the vision for your business. Ensure you have something short and more relevant for such times. Similarly, job interviews, appraisal meetings and online profiles – each one calls for a different perspective to the same content about yourself.
Communicating our best selves is an art and we can’t afford to go wrong in today’s times. If you don’t tell people what you are good at, people may never realise it. Everyone is so busy in today’s times that we need to ensure that our best work is put before people who matter. Whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur, you are solely responsible for creating opportunities for yourself. And communicating in the right manner is the key here – and this book is a great help!
(This is not a paid review. I share reviews of books from time to time on this blog to help readers gain from the books that I have read)