How to Build Your Personal Brand Without Acting Insufferable

Self-promotion isn't easy and isn't always comfortable. If you're worried about coming across as arrogant when building your personal brand, take steps to ensure your actions aren't totally self-serving.


Big Think Edge is a video-driven platform that catalyzes happiness and performance in professional environments by cultivating leadership, creativity, and self-knowledge. Learn more about Big Think Edge.

Big Think expert Dorie Clark is a big proponent of building your personal brand while simultaneously avoiding being a total jerk about it. 

According to Clark, there are several key things to remember in order to ensure that your brand-building isn't completely self-serving. Sure, it's important to frame yourself in the best way possible. But you're also submitting personal facts and figures to augment others' understanding of your skills and capabilities. By composing an accurate and thorough resume or CV, you're offering employers and teammates a tool by which they can analyze your skills and needs.

Here's a basic summary of Clark's advice:

"The first step is understanding the true value of self-promotion...

The next step is to focus on facts, not interpretation...

It’s important to demonstrate your expertise with stories, not words...

You’ll also want to ensure that those stories are relevant...

Finally, even when you’re promoting yourself, it’s essential to express humility."

"Often, people shy away from self-promotion for fear that they’ll alienate their colleagues and develop a reputation as a braggart. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, personal branding can benefit you and your company by helping others understand where you excel, and ensuring that your talents are put to use in the best way possible."

The gist: You should focus your self-promotion in a way that assists others in addition to yourself. Do this by building off concrete accomplishments and accolades without adding any embellishments or subjective titles (for example, Clark hates it when people anoint themselves "social media experts"). Take a look at Clark's full piece (linked at the bottom) and let us know what you think.

Below, Clark paints a portrait of "thought leadership" and explains how anyone can work to becoming a thought leader in their particular sector:

Read more at HBR.

Photo credit: javi_indy / Shutterstock

Related Articles

How does alcohol affect your brain?

Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.

(Photo by Angie Garrett/Wikimedia Commons)
Mind & Brain
  • Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
  • Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
  • Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists sequence the genome of this threatened species

If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.

Surprising Science
  • A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
  • It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
  • Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.

If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.

Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.

elephant by Guillaume le Clerc

Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons

13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.

It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.

But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.

John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."

What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.

Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.

Why cauliflower is perfect for the keto diet

The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.

Purple cauliflower. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
  • The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
  • It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
Keep reading Show less