Building my personal website has been a stressful experience. It has produced frequent crisis of confidence. I’m not naturally a self-promoter – and I blush as I write this article about narcissism.
My “bible” during the build has been Lynda Gratton’s book – “The Shift: The Future of Work is already here”. It’s an excellent, recommended read. It’s been mentioned in a previous blog post – and I am sure will feature in many more. Lynda’s book also formed a significant part of The Economist’s Special Report on “The Future of Jobs”.
Lynda peppers the book with quotes about the challenge to balance narcissism with reputation building and personal branding”:
“These are also the people who will tread the fine line between out-and-out narcism and a more nuanced presentation and branding of self.”
“Walking the line between personal branding and making a mark, and out-and-out narcism, will be increasingly important.”
“I don’t want to confuse narcissism with this reputational building. It’s not narcissistic to want to build a trusted personal brand – it’s vital.”
It’s encouraging – but doesn’t give you much of a safety net. Being a pioneer – can mean you fall flat on your face and your personal branding just makes you appear a pushy, self-promoting, narcissist!
Also, while the website building process has been going on – I seem to have been bombarded by headlines such as:-
Marketing to Narcisists – by Seth Godin
Social Network Overuse Breeds Narcissism – the Daily Telegraph
In the end, I bit the bullet and did all the things that I needed to do. Some were easier than others.
I had some great help from the team at local Bath agency, Storm. Dave Kelly (the “award-winning” young boss) took the brief, Andrew pulled together a simple – but striking – design and Liam wired it all up so that it worked. It’s been quite a big build as I decided that the “Projects & Tales” area were going to be the best way to build confidence with visitors. The site is aimed at business founders who might want help – and like minded individuals who want to make contact. Lynda’s book was again useful on this:
“Attractors pull others towards them because they are seen as open, so others feel less anxious about approaching them, and they are seen as good at reciprocating, so their friends are keen to introduce their friends to them. But perhaps the most important pull of attraction is that they are seen as interesting and exciting, and create clear pathways along which others feel they can approach them.”
It would have been cheaper to just have a DIY site from About.me or Flavors.me – but I felt the “storytelling” was important. Would be interested to hear your thoughts if you get chance to compare the three sites.
Having my picture taken was pretty cringey. Despite being a professional photographer for nearly 15 years – I’d never been the “victim” of a studio photographer before. Neill Menneer from Bath studio Spirit Contemporary Photography, put me at ease. I’m pleased with the results. It was originally suggested that I could just have a “snap” done – but the professional photography makes such a difference. I think if I was running on a tighter budget I would have had the pro photo session done – and just gone with About.me or Flavors.me. I would then have worked harder on a basic WordPress.com blog to back up those sites.
Writing the project and tales was a cathartic and enjoyable experience. It was definitely self-indulgent, but an important opportunity to reflect on what I have done that I’ve enjoyed and have managed to make a difference with. Getting the tone right was important – and here I drafted in the services of my “big sister”, Sandra. She’s an experienced newspaper sub-editor. As well as knocking the writing, spelling and grammar in to shape, Sandra was able to give me an honest answer to my questions like “does this make me sound too much of a twat!” I hope she’s been honest!!!
Finally, I knew that there was one page that needed to be a bit more “sales”/pushy. That was the About Me page. I decided to outsource the writing of this. Lea Woodward offers a great service to do this. I sent her the draft of my site – and a brief on who I was trying to reach. I think she’s got the tone right – and along the way she reinforced that I should use “you” in my writing much more than “I”. Training the narcissist out of me!
Well, the site is now up and running. I’ve still not shown my wife or given her the link. I still find the idea of talking about myself and showing personal pictures in such a public way skin crawling!
I did read an article last week that did give me faith that if I come across as a narcissist, it’s not that bad.
Michael Maccoby – author of books like “Narcissistic Leaders: Who Succeeds and Who Fails” and “The Productive Narcissist: The Promise and Peril of Visionary Leadership” said:
“Steve Jobs is a text-book example of a brilliant productive narcissist, a change-the-world personality who evolved into a great leader by developing his strategic intelligence: foresight, partnering, visioning and motivating.”
RIP Steve – a narcissist the world admires!