A few months ago, a “business and success change agent” reached out to me, desiring a quick Skype chat. The quick Skype chat request is one that I usually resist, because spending more time online than I already do wouldn’t be great self-care.
But, alright. I did the one thing that I typically never do: I ignored the sort of odd “red flag” feeling within me and said yes to the Skype chat.
I got on at the appointed time. She never showed. Of course.
In the 15 minutes that I waited on Skype, just in case she was going to show, I spent time digging around her website, which I hadn’t had the time to do when I’d quickly said yes to the request.
That’s when I realized that this Skype flake-out was a blessing in disguise.
Biggify vs. Hype
While I usually believe that most people need help stepping into their greatness, acknowledging themselves for their accomplishments, there is a difference between biggification and hype.
Biggifying yourself is necessary in business and the world of work. When you accomplish something, people want to hear about it! If your felted dolls business became popular on Oprah, but now you’re a life coach and think it’s not relevant to mention that, I’d argue that it’s actually good to share on your website that you had enough creativity and ingenuity to get noticed by Ms. O herself for your felted dolls business.
However, “hype” is about fudging the truth a bit. Hype would be wording things on your site in such a way that people might think that Lady O called you up for coaching advice.
Biggifying yourself is when you leave your corporate job and you make it clear on your website that you increased profits by 15% or were in a directorial position, and that company trusted you to get things handled, and you make it clear to people that there are aspects of those skills that are translatable to the services you provide.
Hype–and this is a big one I see in the coaching world, unfortunately–is working for a corporation in a capacity that has nothing to do with self-promotion forms of marketing, and then saying that you’re experienced as a business coach for small entrepreneurs when you’ve not created a proven track record of being able to land guest posts, rock social media, etc. There is a vast world of difference between working for a corporation that has a well-established brand with that steady bi-weekly paycheck…and confronting the lonely computer screen after starting your first blog that has no traffic yet, wondering what in the world your brand is all about and how anyone will ever notice it, with a savings account that seems to only be getting smaller.
(This isn’t to say that many biz coaches don’t leave the corporate world and hike up their britches and figure out how to rock the online world. The difference is whether one biggifys what they actually accomplished, or hypes things up to make it seem like there’s a ton of direct experience or success in the solopreneur arena, when there isn’t.)
Back to this Skype chat that never was. Here are a few bits from my experience with Coach Hype:
1.) She had her VA send the email saying she “loved” my work. Looking back, if she loved the work so much, she’d probably send the email, herself. This smacks of the sort of self-importance that lead P.Diddy to hire an umbrella handler in the 90s.
2.) She had a website plastered with logos from Fox, Martha Stewart, and NPR. A Google search for this person, who has a very unique name, turned up positively…zilch. Nothing. Not a single link (other than her bio).
It’s obvious that it’s not good to outright lie and put up such logos on your website. I’m hoping that that isn’t the case, here. Perhaps this person had a tenuous, fleeting, one-second interaction with these companies at some point in her life, and now she’s milking that connection, or that for some reason, all of those companies just happen to have deleted every interview with her from their archives. Hmmm….
3.) Quoting from the video at the top of her website, “I’m also the best-selling author of the book _______” So I start googling her book, and I find it on Amazon. At that point, I started to wonder if she knew whether or not Amazon provides handy tracking stats on books that can actually verify whether or not your book is a best-seller. This one was not.
As a side note, I realized that her website looked visually similar to Marie Forleo’s website. I’m not talking about a similar color scheme. We’re talking about a whole lotta things looking the same. Additionally, the name of this coach’s upcoming signature program sounded awfully similar to Marie Forleo’s signature program, Rich, Happy, and Hot, both in title and content. Finally, the coach claims to be a seven-figure earner, but there were astonishingly few comments or social media shares of her blog posts. Of course, I don’t have her tax records, but usually seven-figure earners have raving fans who lurrrrve to interact with them and share away, not blog post after blog post with zero comments.
This is not the only example that I’ve seen of this, lately.
I’ve received emails in which someone said that they had 20, 30, 50-thousand subscribers to their newsletter. They had no social media following to speak of, conveniently. The one number that no one can verify–their newsletter subscribers–is the one number that is gargantuan, with no other indications of a platform that supports that number. Hmmm.
Or perhaps the invitations to be part of a “platform of [insert huge number] of users,” with that huge number actually reflecting the total number of people who know what a podcast is, not necessarily the total number of actual subscribers that you have for your particular podcast.
You can’t say that because you’ve created an app for iPhone users, that the audience for your app is “14 million people” because that was the number of iPhones sold in 2010. At least, you can’t say that and actually be honest. That’s fudging. An audience shows up for an event at an appointed time; an audience is not all the potential humans on earth who could have potentially bought a ticket for an event.
Biggify yourself: An Exercise
I’m trusting that you don’t do any of this. I’m sharing these details in part because I want to show you what to be on the lookout for when someone’s potentially hyping something up, and it doesn’t quite stand alone.
I know that you, Dear Reader, want to earn your credentials, not kinda-sorta fudge them. You might even have a wee touch of the Imposter Complex. I get it. You cringe at the thought of ever being “that coach” who hypes up something.
So here’s an exercise to biggify, without the hype:
Challenge #1: Consider the three clients you’ve most loved working with. What were 3 outcomes from working with you that you can say, with reasonable certainty, they achieved? Think in terms of the tangible (X number of dollars in increased income) and intangible (they reported to you that they felt less reactive and more confident).
Now ask yourself: Are you telling people, clearly, that these are potential outcomes of working with you?
Challenge #2: Connect with clients from a few months or years ago. How are they doing? What’s been the most important takeaway from your time with them?
Now ask yourself: Are you telling people, clearly, that these are the potential long-term outcomes of working with you?
Challenge #3: Have you been published, online? Are you part of any groups? What did you do in your last job? Or is there genius for you to claim in having been a bohemian spirit who did things totally and wholly her own way, outside of the school/monetary/rack up awards and accomplishments system?
Now ask yourself: Are you letting that show up as a celebration in your online space?
Of course, tell people the truth of what you’ve created. If you’ve only cultivated small potatoes, so far, then tell the truth about your small potatoes and pair it with your passion and make it clear that you’re ready and willing to learn more and hone your skills.
HAPPY SELF PROMOTION = RADIATE your passion + STATE THE FACTS of what that passion generates – the results it brings for you and your customers.
— Danielle LaPorte
Kate Swoboda (aka Kate Courageous) is a life coach who teaches people how to work with fear and practice courage. She’s the founder of www.CoachingBlueprint.com and creator of the Coaching Blueprint digital program.