Who's Going to Toot Your Horn? No One Except Yourself!

On Fridays, I usually receive a weekly newsletter on “leadership” and personal improvement.  There was a link to an article about having a strong and focused vision with the example of Amazon for their Kindle.

“To make available in less than 60 seconds every book, ever written, in any language, in print or out of print; and bring the same ease-of-use, deep integration and superior selection of content to movies, TV shows, music, magazines, apps, games, and more.”

This got me to start thinking about a personal branding stuff story told by one of my profs in my MBA classes which went something like this:  “I was accused of being an arrogant bragger by one of my co-workers who said that I tooted my horn too much.  Well, if you don’t toot your own horn, who’s going to toot it for you?”


So basically if you don’t tell people about who you are and what you can do, how will people be able to see you from among the crowd?  Looking at Amazon’s example, it tells the world exactly what the Kindle is capable of, suggests that it is compatible with many countries and can play a wide range of media.  It is a very diverse tool which can be used for many entertainment products.

This personal branding stuff and tooting the horn is something that I struggle with.  Sometimes I think it’s due to my upbringing in an Asian family in which you are taught to stay humble and out of the spotlight while working hard/doing your best.  Other times I think it’s because I’m female and don’t want to be seen as an aggressive bitch.  I also wonder if I’m driving myself crazy for no reason by never settling and aiming too high.

Regardless, fears and excuses need to be put aside, because if there is something you want, you have to get it yourself.  So how does one actually do this personal branding stuff?

In a Forbes Personal Branding 101 article, a few practical steps are given on how to think through the process before making an action plan:

Step 1: Define your overall aspirations

– Be specific and choose a goal.

For example, at the moment I want to become a published author.

Step 2: Conduct research

– How did successful people reach their goal?  What are competitors like?

I’ve been looking into how the publishing industry works and looking up potential agent contacts online.  I’ve seen published author query letters, so I will be crafting my own in a similar style.  Competitors – well, there are many and I’m not sure what I can do except make sure I have an idea that’s unique and can sell.  Also make sure I finish the novel before attempting to sell.

Step 3: Determine your brand attributes

-What do you want your brand to convey?  How do you want people to see you?

I’m a bit of a mixed bag at the moment, as I have both fiction and non-fiction items on my author page.  Usually authors are known for one or the other, so there is a bit of a brand mismatch.  In general, I want people to see me as a credible author who writes fantasy/horror, but also a “real” person who is struggling with this parasite/munchkin business.

Step 4: Assess your current state

-How do people perceive you and what is the gap?

People who know me are surprised at my interest in writing as it is a creative endeavor which has nothing to do with my day job.  So until I get something published, this whole author business doesn’t seem real at the moment.

Step 5: Create your game plan

-This is creating a “brand” not only through social media, but also  attire, hair, makeup, behavior, verbal and non-verbal communication.

Part of my game plan was to launch this website to communicate and let people know of my writing goals, so one thing is done.  The whole attire thing is a bit difficult as I have visited other vampire author websites and they are very “goth”.  I am a bit of a closet goth, but can’t a happy looking person write horror stories?  Isn’t that more scary?

Step 6: Manage your brand

-Continue to reinforce things and proactively make sure things are in sync.

To me, this means continuously writing random but entertaining rants on this blog, inviting more friends to spread the word and stalking agents until I find someone who can help me sell my books.  Also, just keep writing and developing this craft.

So I have to keep tooting my horn and hope for the best!  It’ll be a long time before I give up my day job, but one can dream?!  The world is a stage and we all need to act out our lives!

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On a side note, my husband is still playing his Dwarf Fortress game.  He was upset when a siege of trolls and goblins attacked his dwarfs.  Most of them dropped their tools to run away to safety, but one dwarf decided he couldn’t leave without a large rock.  As a result, he was hunted down and killed.  My husband said that he didn’t care about the rock and would rather have seen the dwarf live, however, each dwarf has their own personality which can not be controlled.  I told him that it sounded quite realistic, as people are irrational people anyway.  I mean, if there was a fire, would we not want to run in and save objects which we are attached to?

He asked me what major project he should do next as the trolls had destroyed his dams.  I told him to build a shrine dedicated to his wife.  He told me to be more specific.  I told him, maybe a “J” surrounded by a waterfall.  Hm..it is possible, he said, stroking his red beard.  But what if the trolls come back?  Right, I nodded, as I thought about what 14 years with one person does to romance…then my practical side comes out as I think about how lucky I am that he is my best friend and that we still enjoy each other’s company all of these years.  He does say that every day that I torture him with my strange theoretical questions (If carnivorous aliens landed on earth, would you let them eat you first to save me?), but I think he’s accepted that this is part of my personality flaw.  I think.