When self-pro­mo­tion helps for ad­vance­ment

New Straits Times - - Business - The writer is man­ag­ing con­sul­tant and ex­ec­u­tive lead­er­ship coach at EQTD Con­sult­ing. He is also the au­thor of the na­tional best­seller “So, You Want To Get Pro­moted?”

I CO-OWN Malaysia’s only ded­i­cated stand-up com­edy club, the Crack­house Com­edy Club Kuala Lumpur, with ar­guably one the best stand-up co­me­di­ans our na­tion has pro­duced, Rizal Van Geyzel. Yes, for a Malaysian, his name it­self is quite hu­mor­ous.

We cel­e­brated our third an­niver­sary on April 30 with a five­day Com­edy Car­ni­val. Of the many projects that I have been in­volved in, this is the least en­tre­pre­neur­ial, but I ven­tured into this busi­ness with my eyes wide open.

Co­me­di­ans are bril­liant to be with and lis­ten to. They make you laugh as they of­fer quirky per­spec­tives on ev­ery­day mat­ters. Like Sin­ga­porean Rishi Bu­drani ob­served at our Car­ni­val, in essence, stand-up co­me­di­ans go around telling the truth and make peo­ple laugh, un­like many politi­cians, who do the ex­act opposite.

These stand-up co­me­di­ans are very per­cep­tive in­di­vid­u­als. But be­cause they are also artistes, volatil­ity is par for the course. Typ­i­cally, a busi­ness month with co­me­di­ans would in­volve pas­sion­ate laugh­ter, dra­matic ac­cu­sa­tions, and bouts of needy anx­i­ety pep­pered with mo­ments of elated joy.

My three-year expedition into this art-form, as a busi­ness, has been both ex­hil­a­rat­ing and ex­as­per­at­ing.

You can say that my so­journ into this busi­ness has more to do with my love for stand-up com­edy, rather than de­sire to profit from it. Af­ter all, the abil­ity to speak, pre­sent and hold an au­di­ence’s at­ten­tion is a skill as­so­ci­ated with my pro­fes­sion, too.

My in­volve­ment is a labour of love.

While this en­ter­prise isn’t go­ing to make me a ty­coon, I have learnt a good deal about peo­ple, their at­ti­tudes and, per­haps most im­por­tantly, self-pro­mo­tion.

In my book “So, You Want To Get Pro­moted?”, I have iden­ti­fied five keys that will help you ad­vance at work. The first, is that you need to “Get No­ticed”. And get­ting no­ticed does en­tail some form of self-pro­mo­tion.

I have ob­served dur­ing my time work­ing with stand-up co­me­di­ans that all of them un­der­stand the need to get no­ticed.

Just like you, they need to be no­ticed at work for all the right rea­sons. That sim­ply means they have to be witty, en­gag­ing and rib-tick­lingly funny “at work” — on stage. They need to let their re­sults speak for them­selves. This, of course, is the first step for both you and a stand-up co­me­dian.

But aside from be­ing ef­fec­tive at their craft, I also re­alised that suc­cess­ful stand-up co­me­di­ans need to be skilled in the art of self-pro­mo­tion.

I am sure you got it drummed into your head from a young age that you need to be hum­ble and that if you toiled hard enough and did a good job, you would be recog­nised for your work and re­warded ac­cord­ingly.

This is de­cent advice. But the re­al­ity in the mod­ern com­bat­ive world is that un­less you suc­cess­fully and strate­gi­cally build your per­sonal brand, you will not be able to progress far.

While be­ing un­pre­ten­tious is a virtue, do not mis­take false mod­esty and fear for au­then­tic­ity and hu­mil­ity.

Many peo­ple will say that they don’t want to blow their own trum­pet. But to para­phrase Cap­tain Ed­mund Black­ad­der, played by Rowan Atkin­son, in Black­ad­der Goes Forth — even if you don’t blow your own trum­pet, at the very least let peo­ple know you have a trum­pet.

My dear friend, cel­e­brated stand-up co­me­dian and erst­while med­i­cal doc­tor, Ja­son Leong, typ­i­fies this prin­ci­pal. While the pu­ri­tan­i­cal might say he is a showoff, I can­not dis­agree more. He is, with­out doubt, one of the bright sparkling lights in the Malaysian stand-up com­edy scene.

I have learnt three im­por­tant lessons from Ja­son on be­ing un­apolo­getic about self-pro­mo­tion.

The first is that he never ac­tu­ally pro­motes him­self. Rather, he pro­motes the value he brings to an au­di­ence.

Be it on stage, or as a com­pere, or in a tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial, it is al­ways about his value propo­si­tion. His shout-outs are not about how great he is but about how you will ben­e­fit through the laugh­ter he in­duces in you. His true fo­cus is on the value he of­fers.

Next is that he never cam­ou­flages or con­ceals the fact that he is en­gaged in self-pro­mo­tion. Ja­son cer­tainly doesn’t in­sult your in­tel­li­gence by pre­tend­ing to be some­thing he is not. He is clear about what he says on Twit­ter or Face­book. There is no need to read be­tween the lines.

The third and ar­guably most im­por­tant les­son is that he has no prob­lem pro­mot­ing other peo­ple. He will pub­licly recog­nise your ac­com­plish­ments and he never he­si­tates to pro­mote your value.

Of course, be­ing mag­nan­i­mous serves to sub­tly high­light his own value. And I am con­vinced Ja­son has dis­cov­ered that when he pro­motes another per­son, they be­come more in­clined to pro­mote him.

At work, you need to get com­fort­able at pro­mot­ing your­self. This will help you in­crease your chances of land­ing a pro­mo­tion. It will also help you build strong net­works, both in your pro­fes­sional en­deav­ours and pri­vate life. But re­mem­ber to stay au­then­tic, just like Ja­son.

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