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Liz Lidgett: Why you should stop downplaying your upsides

This past month I participated in my first “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition called Invest In She. I had worked on the presentation non-stop for days while memorizing and perfecting each word to fit in the allotted four minutes of time. It was going to be a crunch, so I decided to take out all information about myself. “Who cares about what I’ve done?” I thought, “Let the company shine. I don’t need to be the center of attention here.”

Well, one of the first questions from the “sharks” was why I hadn’t mentioned any of the reasons why I was qualified to run my business. The shark mentioned it was hard to find that information online too. In my website bio, I had mentioned that I grew up in Des Moines, and I loved art. That’s all well and good but it’s not reason enough to become an art start-up CEO. I hadn’t mentioned that for the last seven years since grad school I have been busting my ass to achieve my goals. I hadn’t even mentioned grad school or that I have been running my own business for 3 years. The shark went on to say people need to know this information. They should be able to find it, or hear it directly from you, because they need to trust your business judgment.

Oh. I just thought it seemed like bragging.

It may be that I am from the Midwest, or that I am female, but talking about myself does not come naturally to me. I’ve always thought, if I work harder and smarter, then that will speak for itself. But there are ways to talk about your accomplishments without being a jerk. Recognize the times when someone needs to know this information, like an interview or a pitch competition with $40,000 on the line (duh, Liz.) Know that these accomplishments are part of who you are. You worked hard for them so they are worth talking about. Be brief, don’t embellish, say it directly and use humor when appropriate. These are normal conversation basics but why does it seem so difficult to actually do?

You are a brand. Promote yourself like you would anything else in business. Be proud of your accomplishments. Talking about your stories will make you more memorable and could show you are the right person for the job. Not shying away from your achievements could actually put dollars in your pocket when you are up for that next promotion. So say your story with pride and be thankful for your success. If you are one of the few people alive who have successfully completed the Adam Emmenecker challenge at Jethro’s, or you built a successful business from the ground up, talk about it — you never know when the right person is listening.