Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Rant about Clay Shirky

When I was in the first grade I walked right up to the drama teacher and informed her that, henceforth, I should be the lead in all student productions. She looked at me as if I were a dead gnat in her ice cream.

I learned something that day. Or so I thought. I learned that self-promotion is frowned upon.
So I stopped doing it.

Clay Shirky thinks that I should start doing it again. In a fascinating essay in which he all but endorses lying as a way to make it to the top, he says that women suck at overstating their abilities and self-aggrandizement.

It's like he punched me in the gut, virtually.

I have spent the last year immersed in more self-promotion than I care to admit. In the name of getting Tweetajob off the ground, I have:
  • Volunteered to speak at conferences
  • Written articles for industry websites and publications
  • Gone on TV to talk about social media
  • Been interviewed for videos and podcasts
  • Asked folks to mention me/Tweetajob in their blogs or Twitterstream
  • Nominated Tweetajob for awards
  • Said self-serving stuff in sales meetings
  • Thrown myself a party
  • Written my own press releases
  • Taken a foxy mall pic, to appear more professional
  • Nearly tackled a venture capitalist, insisting he see my demo
  • Blogged, commented, chatted, Twittered and Facebooked about myself/Tweetajob incessantly
And still, it's not enough. I don't know how long I do this without hurling up my copy of Crush It.

I have long fooled myself into believing that skill, knowledge, passion for the work are just rewards. But we don't live -- and we certainly don't work -- in utopian meritocracies. The truth is, I have winced as many less talented people - men and women - pole vaulted off my back to get the spoils. These people were good at making sure they got what they wanted.

So, even as I rail my fists at Mr. Shirky, I am stepping up my self-aggrandizement program. I have to. I have waded into the pool of internet startups, dominated by men with lots of practice overstating their abilities. I have chosen to swim with the sock puppets. In the process, I am likely to piss some people off. I'm sure some of my Facebook friends have "hidden" me. I will be unfollowed.

Small price to pay. Tweetajob is frickin' awesome. It is the future of job posting. It kicks ass and leaves its competition in the dust. Unfollow me if you must. I don't care. I care about the thousands - maybe millions - of folks who might get a job because they can get job tweets to their mobile phones. If it takes a bit of hyperbole to make this happen, so be it.

By the way, have you voted for Tweetajob in the Shorty Awards?


  1. I think you're awesome Carmen and really admire all of the work you're doing - not only with Tweetajob, but also in getting it started up. While it may never feel natural to self-promote, when you are sincere and believe in what you're promoting - as you do in your company - I don't think that people (that matter) will discount you. And remember, other women are watching you and are being inspired to do great things too. (I know I am.)

    Keep up the good work and soon, others will be talking about you so much that you will no longer have to.

  2. Your post actually gave me a stomach ache. I hate self-promotion. And overstate my abilities? No Way!!! Thanks for forcing me to look the ugly beast in the eye. Polite and self-effacing is fine...but not for starting a business. I will never never HIDE OR UNFOLLOW you.