Free resources for growing your own influence and persuasion skills? Yes please!

Ep #43: How to Articulate Your Value with Debby Stone


Mastering The Power Skills with Kathy Dockry | How to Articulate Your Value with Debby Stone

Self-promotion typically gets a bad rap. Lots of people think of promoting themselves as sales-y, arrogant, or being a braggart. Maybe you’ve held yourself back from articulating your value because you didn’t want to come across in this way. My guest this week, however, believes self-promotion, at its core, is about confidently, gracefully, and authentically telling your story.

Debby Stone is the founder and CEO of Novateur Partners: an executive coaching and leadership development firm that supports executives, corporations, professional service firms, and non-profit organizations. Her book, The Art of Self-Promotion: Tell Your Story, Transform Your Career, is one of the most helpful books out there in the field of personal brand building, and she’s here today to shed light on the importance of articulating your value in a compelling way.

Whether you’re looking for another role, coming up on a performance review, or trying to build your network, listen in this week to hear Debby’s insights on why you must be able to tell your story powerfully in those scenarios. You’ll learn the types of results great self-promotion can get you, where people tend to get stuck, and simple action steps you can take right now to build your confidence. 

Whether you’re in the running for a promotion, seeking a new job, or merely looking to avoid layoffs, the stakes are high. How can you ensure that others understand your unique value? Click here for Kathy’s free guide to help you do exactly this. It’s called “What Do You Do?”… Is A Trick Question. 

And to be notified when Debby and Kathy create a digital course on articulating your value, please email Kathy at info@significagroup.com with the subject line Course Notification. Feel free to also include any particular aspects of articulating your value that you would find helpful to you.


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Debby’s insights on what self-promotion means.
  • Why articulating your value in a compelling way is one of the most important skills you can cultivate.
  • The types of results great self-promotion can get you.
  • How powerfully telling your story gives you clarity on who you are. 
  • Where people typically get stuck when it comes to articulating their value.
  • Debby’s thoughts on the importance of having someone to work with on your story.
  • The gender gap that exists in self-promotion.
  • Action steps you can take to begin building your confidence in articulating your value. 


Listen to the Full Episode:


Featured on the Show:

  • If you’d like some personal guidance on how to use the power skills of influence, persuasion, or presence in your workplace, we’ve got your back. Email us explaining your situation, and we’ll feature your inquiry on an upcoming episode, making sure you have tips and strategies to help navigate your situation skillfully, all while keeping your identity anonymous of course!
  • Debby Stone: Website | LinkedIn
  • The Art of Self-Promotion: Tell Your Story, Transform Your Career by Debbie Stone
  • Savvy Self-Promotion – article on Harvard Business Review


Full Episode Transcript:


You are listening to episode 43 of Mastering The Power Skills. Learning how to articulate your value to other people in a compelling way is one of the most important things you can do in order to have the career of your dreams. It’s a valuable skill to have in winning jobs, favorable reviews and promotions. And it can decrease the risk to us during reorganizations and down-sizing. There’s even evidence that it attracts even a greater number of good fit opportunities to us over the course of our lives.


However, articulating our value is not always something that comes naturally to us. Most of us have to learn this skill and carve out the time to do it well. Join me in this important episode where I discuss the fundamentals of how to do this with expert Debby Stone, author of the book The Art of Self-Promotion: Tell Your Story, Transform Your Career.


How much more could you accomplish if you were 25% or even 50% more influential and persuasive? Welcome to Mastering The Power Skills, the podcast that provides you with the tips, strategies, and the inspiration to grow your own power and win support for your ideas. And now here’s your host, C-suite leadership coach Kathy Dockry.


Hi, everyone. I’m so energized about today’s episode. Not only are we going to be exploring a very important topic, but I’m joined by Debby Stone, one of the experts in this particular area. In this interview, we’ll be looking at some of the fundamental components of how to articulate your value. Including what the heck self-promotion is in the first place, when it can help you, and how you can get started on crafting your own story.


But before we dive in, let me just give you a little background on Debby. In her past life, Debby has had an impressive background both in law and management consulting. Her past experience provides a really strong foundation for what she is currently well known for, as the founder and CEO of Novateur Partners. It’s an executive coaching and leadership development firm that supports executives and corporations, professional service firms, and nonprofit organizations.


Debby and her firm really do it all in the world of top-tier executive coaching. However, for our purposes today, it’s important to know that she shares my interest in the importance of influence, persuasion, and presence skills. In fact, back in 2015, she wrote one of the most helpful books out there in the field of personal brand building. It’s called The Art of Self-Promotion: Tell Your Story, Transform Your Career. It’s a classic that still resonates today.


On the basis of that, as well as all her expertise in other topics, she’s in demand as a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator. Now, I could go on and on about Debby’s other accomplishments, but I don’t want to delay you in hearing directly from Debby herself in this interview. You’ll be able to find the links to both her website and her book in the show notes for this episode.


Kathy Dockry: Hi, everyone. We’ve already given you the formal introduction to Debby, and she’s sitting with me here right now. Hi, Debby. Thanks for coming on the show.


Debby Stone: Hi, Kathy. It’s great to be here. I’m delighted. Thank you for having me.


Kathy: Oh, you’re welcome. We’re just, by the way, beaming at each other here on Zoom. I’ll give you a little bit more of an informal introduction to Debby. She’s one of the coaches who always comes to mind when I get asked for recommendations from people for coaches, and “it’s not a good fit job for me.” She’s a spectacular coach. We first met when we were both part of Goodstone, which is an organization that vets and recommends coaches to large companies and professional services firms.


At the time we met, Debby already had a well-regarded coaching firm. And after a while, I left Goodstone to start my own firm. But when we met, right away we notice lots of common perspectives and overlaps in the way we approach coaching. And we both have an appreciation of the value that the skills of influence, persuasion, and presence can bring in creating a stellar career.


And that’s not too surprising. We both started out as practicing attorneys and law firms before we segued into other careers. For me, it was corporate leadership and then coaching. I can’t remember, Debby. So, how did you make that switch from being a lawyer to being a coach?


Debby: Always one of my favorite questions, Kathy. So, I’m glad you asked. So for me, I had been practicing law for around a decade. I had been with a large law firm. I actually had my own firm for a number of years, and was practicing in that venue. And what I kept coming across was this concept that what I enjoyed most was working with business leaders, helping them understand what they wanted to accomplish, helping them figure out their goals.


And realized, as a lawyer, that was not what I was being paid to do. I was being paid to draft and negotiate and advise on agreements and deals they were doing; I was a corporate lawyer. And so, fortunately for me, I discovered the world of coaching. I was able to make the shift from practicing law into coaching, and really leverage the things that I enjoyed more in my law practice and have those be my business as opposed to those being a nice add-on.


Kathy: Exactly, yeah. That’s about the time I met you; I can’t exactly remember when it was. But what I thought was particularly cool about Debby at that time was that she had already written a book, The Art of Self-Promotion, by the time we first started working closely together as colleagues. And while it was written back in 2015, I think it’s just as relevant now as it was back then. And I know for a fact that many people feel it still resonates with them in the workplace. It’s a wonderful book and a wonderful resource.


Today, we’re going to be talking about some of the insights and guidance from that book. So, first question for Debby, which I’m sure she gets all the time, is what actually is self-promotion? What do you mean by that?


Debby: I am glad you asked that as well, because I do get it a lot. And as you probably already know, self-promotion itself typically has a very bad reputation. There are lots of people who say it’s shameful. And they talk about how if you promote yourself, you’re being arrogant or being a braggart. And what I believe is that self-promotion, really at the core, is confidently, gracefully, and authentically telling your story.


Realizing that if you don’t tell your story, there’s not necessarily going to be anyone else who tells it for you. So, being comfortable enough, confident enough, to authentically… Not in a fake, overblown kind of way, but in an authentic way… share the information about yourself that other people need to know. So that they can make informed decisions about whether to hire you, promote you, put you on a project team, network with you. Whatever it is that you want them to do with you.


Kathy: Yeah. I really love that point that you make. That “self” in self-promotion, a lot of times people think of it as being self-centered, or selfish, or sort of ego‑driven in some way. But I really think it gets to the point that no one can tell our story as well as we can. It’s self-promotion because to do it effectively, it has to come from you. And it’s something I say a lot to my clients when they’re trying to pitch ideas, for example, to someone higher up in the organization.


Yes, you can have someone else, a boss, do that for you. But will the boss do it as effectively as you could? Chances are no, even if they’re a big advocate for you. So, it’s important to learn these skills.


Debby: Absolutely. And as I say often, no one cares more about your career than you. And so, for you to turn over responsibility for sharing who you are, and what you do, and how you do it, to someone else means that you’re essentially allowing yourself to be in the passenger seat of your own career.


Thinking about, what it’s like when you are the passenger. Maybe you have a great driver and you’re thinking, “I can just sit back and relax.” But how many times are you sitting in that passenger seat and thinking, “Oh, you just cut that guy off. You should slam on the brakes right now. You need to accelerate.” And so, we want to be, all of us should want to be, driving our own careers.


Kathy: Yeah. And I also sometimes think of it as it’s one of the kindest things we can do to flip it a little bit. It’s not really, again, self-oriented to create clarity about who you are, and what kind of value you can add to any particular situation. I mean, what you’re doing is giving someone else valuable information so they can decide to what extent they can use that value or not.


Debby: Absolutely. And I love that you said that, because this comes up a lot in terms of when I’m working with a client and I hear from their leader, “Hey, we would really like to promote this person, but we aren’t sure if they really want a promotion.”


And so, we, as people in the work world, need to make sure that people know, the leaders that surround us know, what we want in terms of our career path. And self-promotion is one of the ways to do that. To be able to say, “Here’s what I’ve done. Here’s who I am. And here’s the direction that I think clearly points me to for the future. So you can see me in this new role. And this is something I’m interested in.”


Kathy : Yeah. And that’s a great setup for my next question, which is, before we talk about the how of self-promotion… and I think that’s something we’ve all struggled with at one point or another; how do I express that? How do I go about doing it? Maybe we can talk a little bit about the types of results it can get us, because that’s what’s going to motivate us on that journey of learning how to do it in the first place.


So, what are some of the typical situations where self-promotion, or a good sense of telling your story, is going to help you?


Debby: Yeah. To your point, I always ask clients to think about “where do you want to go in your career? Envision that place that you want to be.” There are people who will need to know your story in order for you to get there, whether you know those people personally, or you know them by title or role. And self‑promotion is helpful, whether you’re thinking about a promotion within your organization, more recognition for your work… Meaning that people actually understand and recognize the value that you are delivering.


Whether you are looking for another role, either internally or externally, and you’re involved in an interview situation. Perhaps you are coming up on a performance review. I, so often, help clients who are thinking about how to write their own self-evaluation, or what to say in a performance review. And if you’re trying to build your network for any reason. Whether it’s simply because you are wanting to be known better in the organization you’re already working in. Whether you’re building an external network, perhaps for client or business development.


You must be able to tell your story powerfully in those scenarios; literally all of them. So, knowing what your goals are and then thinking about, “Who are the people who would need to know about me, for me to reach those goals? And what do they need to know?”


Kathy: Yeah, I love the comprehensiveness of that. Often, we’re in these scenarios… I know I was, early in my career. Where all of a sudden you realized you had this opportunity to tell your story. You were quickly going into an interview, or suddenly you were up for a new job, and there was some competition, and you had to put your best foot forward. And we can get ready in a hurry. I like to think that I did do that.


But typically, we’re not looking at it comprehensively. We’re not looking far enough ahead, and coming up with the story line for where we want to get eventually. It’s a little bit more situational and a little bit more short term. And I find that if I’m asked to review a client’s bio or resume, or their pitch for whatever the promotional opportunity is, it suffers from that. They’re not able to create that larger context of ‘who I am and where I’m going, and what the value of that might be for you in this current opportunity.’


The other thing that I noticed, which I think is so fascinating, is that when I’ve worked with clients on this, the other value that comes from getting clear on your own story is to you. Leaving aside everybody else who you might be telling your story to, suddenly, instead of having this sort of vague idea of who you are, you have real clarity, and it’s a powerful clarity about who you are.


And I think that really helps you in making decisions, more intentional decisions, about where you’re taking your career. If you know who you are and the value that you’re adding, you can have more confidence about how you shape your career path going forward. I saw that a couple of times. I don’t know when it was, it was maybe 2021; the job market was go-go. This was year after COVID. And it seemed like everybody was getting the job offers of their dreams. There were a lot of opportunities floating around. Unfortunately, not as much right now.


I found that people were eager to apply for these jobs, but they didn’t really have a lot of clarity, actually, about what they wanted. It’s just, “Google called. I think I’d like to go to Google,” but they hadn’t already clarified for themselves who they were and where they were going. And doing the preparation that you’re talking about would have been so valuable to them at that point.


The consequence was that quite a few people I knew ended up in a job they didn’t want. They looked great on paper, there was high demand, their qualifications were wonderful, they went in, they were wowed, and the company was wowed by them. It was as if they were not communicating very clearly with each other about, “Okay, this is who we are. This is who you are,” and really getting on the same wavelength for that.


Sure, sometimes when you get very clear on that, you don’t investigate opportunities so you might turn down Google. But that might be a good thing sometimes. It’s better to turn down Google if a year later you’re going to be miserable in your job. It’s much better to stay where you are.


Debby: 100% agree. And as I always say when I’m working with clients who are considering any kind of a transition, it’s so important to remember that it’s a two‑way conversation. It’s not just, “Let me convince you to want me.” It’s, “Do I really want you? Is this a place where I would really be happy? Does it align with my goals, my values, who I am as a person, what I want to accomplish, and how I want to accomplish it?”


Kathy: Yeah. And it requires you to do something that we’re a little scared to do at first, which is to actually say what we want and what our goals are. When we first were in the job markets, we felt it was all about convincing the possible employer to like us and want us and see us as valuable. We kind of know how to do that when we’re in more senior positions.


But we’re not as comfortable, perhaps in saying, “This is the sort of environment where I do my best work. Do you provide that sort of environment? Because if you don’t, maybe we should stop talking at this point.”


Debby: It’s funny, you say that. It reminded me of a client I worked with a number of years ago who, when we started to talk about what she wanted in her next role, she said, “I’ve learned that I do my best work when I’m in an environment where I have an office with a door that closes. I’m no longer going to even look at a job if there’s an open floor plan, because I need a door.”


Kathy: Let me guess, was she an introvert?


Debby: Yes.


Kathy: We’re laughing here because I’m an introvert. Are you as well, Debby?


Debby: I’m right on the line. I go both ways.


Kathy: But then, closing the door, workwise, works for me.


Debby: Yeah, definitely, definitely. And what I loved about it was that she had done enough self-reflection to know that that truly was important to her. And it was important enough that it was a deal breaker on a job.


And so, while that is a tangible kind of thing, doing the self-reflection that’s required in order to promote yourself effectively, leads often to a lot of these kinds of insights about who I am, what’s important to me, what are my true strengths? And given what those strengths are, what do I enjoy doing? Which is reflected, presumably, in my accomplishments. How do I like to work? What am I passionate about?


All those things that can really help us, as you said, know ourselves better, and then articulate better what it is that we want to do and in what environment we want to do it.


Kathy: Perfect, perfect. So, let’s get to the “how”. Because that’s another stumbling block for people. So, creating your own story, if you have not done it before, can take some time. It’s not something that intuitively comes quickly to you. Right? Tell us a little bit about that.


Debby: It is a self-reflection process. And that’s often where people get stuck initially. Because our lives are go-go-go, and most of us don’t stop long enough to ask ourselves some of these self-reflective questions. It’s one of the reasons I wrote the book. It was to give people a little bit of a roadmap around some of the questions that you would want to be asking in order to become an effective self-promoter.


But it’s thinking about strengths. It’s thinking about, what am I complimented for? What are those things that come easily to me? We often are so focused on ‘what are the things I need to do to grow and develop and do better.’ This is the flip side, which often makes people uncomfortable. What am I actually good at? And again, being clear. Not undervaluing and saying, “Oh, I think everybody can do that.” Realizing that these are the strengths that you have, you should own those.


Thinking about what you’ve accomplished. Which, again, as highly accomplished people, as I imagine all of the listeners on your podcast are, most highly accomplished people simply check the box and move on to what’s next. And don’t recognize accomplishments, unless they are the big ones. “I got that promotion… that raise. I graduated from that program.” The rest of the time, we simply just keep moving. We’re more attuned to looking at what’s next than looking at what we’ve done. So, being really clear.


Thinking about it on a regular basis, because to the point that you just made, this is an ongoing process. If you try to remember your accomplishments, when you have a week to go before your performance review, if you are like anyone else that I’ve worked with, myself included, I don’t remember what I was doing a year ago or six months ago. We can’t keep up with our accomplishments unless we’re logging them and recognizing them regularly. So, really reflecting on that.


And there are several other pieces of self-reflection that I recommend. But one of the most important is to really know what your brand is. To understand that your brand is the umbrella for all of your self-promotion. So, if you’re wanting to talk about yourself, knowing what your brand is. Meaning, what do people think of when they hear your name? Hopefully, that aligns with what you want them to be thinking of when they hear your name.


And then, your self-promotion should actually add to that brand. In other words, the things that you share, and the stories that you tell, should actually help to create and reinforce the brand that you want people to have for you.


Kathy: Yeah. And you don’t have to go it alone. I think you have to invest a lot of your time into that. But to your point that we are not always fully conscious of how we’re perceived or the accomplishments we’ve had, sometimes what I suggest to clients is that they talk to an array of people.


And I think it’s important to ask a sort of very focused question. Which is something like, “If there were one or two things you would immediately think of when you heard my name, what would those things be? In terms of the value that I add.” Rather than the open-ended question about, “What do you think my strengths are? What do you think my weaknesses are?” All those sort of questions.


With those questions, you get a lot of data back. It’s kind of confusing and it’s not necessarily helpful. So, asking a question where you can find a person to give you one or two highlights. “What are the two biggest things you think of in terms of the value that I add?” You’ll see a trend pretty quickly. You’ll see a lot of input that overlaps. And you’re going to start noticing that that trend may not quite aligned with what you have in mind.


To that point, there was a story… oh, my gosh, about 10 years ago… where I took an assessment. You know how we sometimes, as coaches, are guinea pigs for assessment tools? I took this assessment with a colleague and we were doing it to see how we would be perceived. Whether the assessment itself was worth using with clients.


And we took the assessment, we got our reports, and she said, “Well, what do you think? I thought it was a pretty good assessment.” And I said, “Well, I don’t think so. It’s a pretty terrible assessment.” She said, “Why?” And I said, “Well, I think I got me all wrong.”


Debby: Sometimes there’s a gap in our perception.


Kathy: Exactly. Right. And she said, “What did you think?” And I said, “Well, if you read this report, you would think that I was a really warm and kind colleague. I’m a really collaborative colleague, but warm and kind?” She looked at me and she said, “Are you nuts?” You might know who we’re talking about. “That’s how you’re perceived.” I felt like an idiot.


But also it was such a revelation to me. It shouldn’t have been, because I’ve seen that in my clients all the time. That people will talk to them and say, “We find you valuable for this reason,” and it will be a wonderful reason but it just hadn’t hit their radar screen at all.


Debby: And that happens so frequently. What you’re pointing out, is that so often, there are perceptions of us out there that we don’t even know about. Positive perceptions in many cases. And, it’s so important to gather that information.


One of the ways to do it, as you said, is to ask people. The other is to listen better to what people are saying about you, how they’re complimenting you. And so often, compliments make us uncomfortable. Very similar to self-promotion; making people uncomfortable. And so, most of the time, when people are paying us a compliment, we are so focused on getting out of that uncomfortable situation that we don’t really hear what we’re being complimented for.


We don’t have the chance to internalize it and own it in a way that allows us to hear what are the ways that people think we’re showing up.


Kathy: Yeah, that’s right. Very true. It would probably be good practice even when you’re not creating your own story, to do that. And of course, as coaches, we help clients with gathering feedback on themselves. But it’s really a revelation. And I think a lot of people don’t do it because they’re afraid they’re going to hear bad things. And generally, you’re not going to hear too many bad things. And if you do hear them, they’re things you probably knew about yourself already. It’s actually the good stuff that people get surprised about. Which is a nice thing.


Debby: Again, the benefit of hearing the good stuff is that it raises your confidence. And in order to successfully tell your story and promote yourself, you have to have a level of confidence in what you’re saying. And so, validating what you believe are your strengths, or what you believe are the areas where you really stand out and shine, by having those conversations, makes you more confident to share that with another party.


Kathy: That’s so true. So any other things, tips, that you would give… There are a lot of tips in the book, of course… on telling your own story? Any other points we haven’t hit on?


Debby: I would say, one thing we haven’t talked about is the importance of having someone to work with on your story. It certainly doesn’t have to be a coach; it can be a sponsor, a mentor, a colleague, a friend. But most of the time, we don’t really have a sense for how we’re coming across when we’re talking about ourselves. And this goes back to the idea that self-promotion has a bad reputation. That we feel somehow ashamed to talk about ourselves.


And so, even when we think we’re pushing the envelope and really getting out there, ‘here’s why I should have this new opportunity at my company,’ we’re almost boastful in how we feel, it’s probably not like that to the person who’s listening. And so, practicing, sharing, and getting some feedback can be really helpful in terms of just getting the precision right.


Are you still able to turn the volume up more? Could you be a little bit more forceful in how you talk about who you are? And share more tidbits about why you would be a good fit for this role that you want? For example. Or, in rare cases, you might hear, “You know what? You should tone it down.” That doesn’t happen very often, because most people who are self-aware enough to be worried about self-promotion, by definition, those are not the people who are likely to go over the top.


Kathy: That’s right. Yes.


Debby: But more often than not, we hold ourselves much more small and quiet than we have to. And there’s no way to know that without bouncing it off someone else.


Kathy: Yeah. I have seen good results when that person, our business colleagues or mentors or bosses, can give us valuable input on a lot of the process. When it comes to giving you feedback on how you’re coming across, I often find it’s the people who love you the most; it’s your partner or your very best friend or someone like that. Because they already kind of know that you might have a history of playing small. They’re going to jump right in there and say… when you practice with them, they’re going to say, “If I were pitching you, I would be speaking much more strongly than you are when you’re talking about yourself.”


Debby: Yeah, they will absolutely champion you. And what you’re pointing to there is this idea that we know how to do this. We do it easily and seamlessly for other people. It’s really taking a skill that we already have and turning it on ourselves. It’s not something we don’t know how to do, it’s something we don’t know how to do for ourselves, because of that mental discomfort with the idea of talking about ourselves.


Kathy: I love that insight. And it makes me suddenly think, if you’re evaluating what you’re putting together, pretend it’s someone else’s. Pretended it’s not you. Pretend that you’re evaluating a good friend’s story about themselves, and see what you think about it then. That would be an interesting lens to use.


Debby: Definitely. Very helpful.


Kathy: Yeah. Okay. So, it’s been a while now since you’ve published The Art of Self-Promotion. I’ve been wondering whether there are any new things that you would put in the book that aren’t in the current edition?


Debby: There are. And one of the main things that I often speak about when I’m keynote speaking or delivering workshops… I do a lot of work with women’s organizations. For example, I’ll be keynoting a conference next week, in Arizona, for women in security. And one of the things that I’ll be talking about is the gender gap in self-promotion. And there is a gender gap in self-promotion, I know this. I’ve been coaching for over 20 years, and speaking for the same. So, I’ve seen it and heard about it on a person-by-person basis.


But there’s also some data out there. There was a Harvard Business Review article that talked a lot about self-promotion; it’s about five years old now. But I can’t imagine that the stats are any different. And what they found was that men’s perceptions of their performance were 33% higher than women who were performing at the same level. And their subjective descriptions of their performance more also substantially better than their female counterparts.


It’s so important for women in the workplace, in particular… not that men don’t need help with self-promotion, often they do… But as female leaders, and people who want success in their careers, women who want to be successful, this is such a critical component. And we are that much less able to do it well. 33% is not a small amount of gap.


So, I think that’s an important point to bring home. Which is, again, there is this gender gap. It exists, and we see it. And I’m sure you’ve seen this, all the stats around women not applying for positions unless they have almost all of the bullet points met in the job description. Whereas male counterparts will go ahead and say, “Yeah, I’ve got a few of these, I’ll go ahead and apply.” So, it’s the same thing with our perception of our value and our worth.


So, doing a lot of this self-reflection can help increase, again, that confidence level. “If I start to say these things about myself, I’m not puffing. This is not me making something up or trying to be salesy. These are things about me that I can back up with my experiences.”


Kathy: Yeah. Any tips about additional things women might do? If you were coaching a woman who was showing evidence of holding back in that way, what are some of the things you’d be saying to her?


Debby: One of the exercises in my book… and I’d recommend this to women leaders, as well as male leaders… is to take your strengths and come up with a story or an example for each one of them; maybe more than one story or example. But it’s critically important to think about how the strength that you’re pointing to plays out in your work. Because a half a dozen people might say, “I am strategic,” but what does that really mean? What does it look like?


It’s important to have a story or an example, because first of all, that’s a great story or an example you can share in an interview context if you’re looking for a new job. But one of the main reasons those are helpful is because they make your strength real to you. That way, it’s not just a word on a page. Like, “Well, my last review, they saw that I was detail oriented and strategic.”


Well, those are nice words. But if you can’t back them up with something concrete, they don’t feel real. And it’s hard to be confident that that’s really who you are without that story or example.


Kathy: Yes, I love that. And another thing I tell clients when they’re doing that… and this applies to men as well as women… is I have seen in my female clients that there’s something unique that everybody brings to the table. If you line up five people who are called “strategic”, they’re still going to be looking around showing up very differently in the area of strategy, right?


If you can get down to that level of what makes your brand have that strength particularly unique, it’s just going to be that much more compelling to whoever is hearing your story. We’ve all heard a lot of, “Blah, blah, blah, strategic this, that, and the other thing,” and they’re all catchphrases. The problem with them is that even if they’re true, the listener can sort of dull out and not really understand, again, the value that only you can provide.


And so, being able to detail that uniqueness in some way is really helpful. And, again, a kindness to whoever’s listening to you because then they can understand you better.


Debby: And they will make a better decision as a result. And to your point, that is a kindness to them. They are being given, in a very easy-to-digest format, the information they need.


Kathy: That’s exactly right. There are a couple of things I would say are very true of listeners of this podcast, and one of them is that they are incredibly busy and they have a lot on their plates. We can find any excuses, of course, to push off something that would be really valuable to do. So, do you have any tips for how you might be able to move into getting some of this work done, compiling and crafting and designing your own story? How could you move into it quickly? What are a few action steps you might be able to take right away?


Debby: Well, they certainly could start with some of the exercises in my book. As coaches, you and I both would be big proponents of accountability. Accountability is likely going to be the best way for someone who’s interested in working on their self-promotion to move the ball forward. So, find a coach, a mentor, a friend, a colleague. Someone who is also perhaps interested in doing this work.


You don’t have to do it all together. But you can hold each other accountable for certain actions or steps forward. In terms of thinking about, “What are the goals I have for my career? Who needs to hear my story in order for me to reach those goals? What are some of the things that might be holding me back as a self-promoter?” Those mindset shifts; I talk a lot about that in my book.


And to really say, “By X date, I want to be ready to have a conversation with my boss about the next role that I want in my company. By X date, I want to feel comfortable enough telling my story, so that if I put my resume in for another job I’ll feel that I’m prepared for an interview.” And to have somebody hold you accountable for doing the work.


Kathy: By the way, everybody, we’ll be putting references to Debby’s book and some other source materials in the show notes. So, you’ll be able to see them there. There is a tip sheet that I put together a couple of years ago called “What do you do? Is a Trick Question.” Which is again, to the point, we get hit with that, “What do you do?” and our mind goes blank. Or we come up with a list of things, instead of being able to articulate the value that we add.


In terms of tips for people to move quickly into action, I have found, for myself, starting to have a few conversations. So, as you as you pointed out, talk to someone you might have as an accountability partner, but also get really curious. I like to pose that question to my best friend or a colleague. Which is, “Just shoot, give it to me straight. If you hear my name, what are the top two things that you know I’m going to be doing? Or the value that I’ll be adding?” Or whatever they are.


Because I want to hear what that is. And once I start hearing what that is, those things are, I start beginning to see the theme or the story. Instead of looking at that blank sheet of paper and trying to create the story on my own. So, that’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years.


And then, also, for viewers of this podcast, Debby and I had so much fun getting ready for this, that we’re currently brainstorming a few ideas about workshops that can support people on some of these things. It’s to be decided, We’re at the very early, early stages.


But if that’s something that you think might interest you, we’ll put a link in the show notes as well. You can just throw your email in there and we’ll send you a note, should we ever come around to putting these workshops together. But it’s an area that we feel kind of passionate about, obviously. So, it would be fun if we could do some more work together on that.


Debby: Yes, it would.


Kathy: Yeah. Debby, thank you so much. This has been such an invaluable interview. I think this is a topic that’s really important to people. And we’ve only opened up the door on it. But a great way to start is to get a copy of Debby’s book. And you’ll be hearing from us, hopefully, sometime in the future.


Debby: Fantastic. Well, thanks for having me, Kathy. It’s always fun to talk with you. And as you know, I love talking about self-promotion.


Kathy: That sounds great. And good luck next week.


Debby: Thank you. Thank you.


Well, what a fun interview that was for me. And I hope it was a helpful one for you as well. If you’re inspired to start creating a compelling version of your own value, we mentioned several resources that can get you started.


Debby’s book The Art of Self-Promotion is certainly an essential and comprehensive resource, and we have a link to that in our show notes. And my free guide, called “What Do You Do? Is a Trick Question” will also begin to steer you in the right direction. You can find that link in the show notes as well.


I’ve also learned that sometimes it helps to have some focused step-by-step help, along with examples and coaching, when you’re first putting together the story of who you are. That’s why Debby and I will be brainstorming some possible digital courses that can provide you with that support. If that sounds of interest to you, there will also be a link in the show notes where you can sign up to be notified if we put such a course together later this year.


Well, that’s all for this month’s episode. We have more great experts lined up for future episodes. But next month, it will just be me. I’ll be sharing a great approach to take when you see something that needs to be done, but you are encountering resistance from decision makers. It could be that you’ve just left out some context that would better enable them to agree with you. So, I’m looking forward to having you join me next time.


Hey there, would you like some personal guidance about how to use the power skills of influence, persuasion, or presence in a particular situation in your workplace? Well, if so, we’ve got your back. Just send us a note explaining your situation to powerskills@significagroup.com. We’ll drop that email address in the show notes. We’ll feature your inquiry in an upcoming episode, keeping your identity anonymous, of course, and make sure you have some tips and strategies to help you navigate your particular situation skillfully.


Thanks for listening to this episode of Mastering The Power Skills. If you like what was offered in today’s show and want more insights and resources from Kathy, check us out at www.significagroup.com.


Enjoy the Show?


About the author

Kathy Dockry is the Managing Director of Significa Group LLC. Our clients are CEO’s, senior management executives, functional leaders, and fast-rising high potentials in complex organizations. Significa helps them hone the leadership, influence and navigational skills that takes their career success to new levels and brings meaningful change to their organizations. www.significagroup.com.