SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
Artful bragging may be just the boast you need
By Frank Wagner
Copley News Service
If you don't boast, you're toast - at least according to Peggy Klaus, author of "Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It" (Warner Business Books, $14).
Consultant and lecturer Klaus honed her bragging skills as a Hollywood producer-director and then as an adviser to corporate America. To her, bragging has become a survival skill in a work world bereft of loyalty and job security.
"Bragging in my book is subtle and seamlessly works its way into social and business interactions," she writes. "If you do it right, they won't know what hit them."
An acknowledged obstacle is the premium society has traditionally placed on humility. It was a lesson pressed on Klaus at the tender age of 9 by her father. As she recounts in her book: "Then I grew up and moved to Hollywood, the bragging capital of the world. All hell broke loose."
Her experience in the entertainment industry taught her "that many who failed to master the craft of self-promotion also failed to get the best parts."
Klaus has redefined brag as "to talk about your best self - with pride and passion in a conversational manner." From there she has crafted supporting tools, such as "brag bites" (prepared factoids that can be dropped into conversation) and "bragologues" (30-second pitches to three-minute monologues).
To Klaus, proper bragging is a matter of style and substance. It highlights your achievements without sounding haughty. Among the topics she addresses in "Brag!" are:
- Techno-bragging. Using 21st century tools such as e-mail, phone and voicemail to keep your accomplishments before select audiences - even if the members are not nearby.
- Interview bragging. How to prepare for and showcase your accomplishments during the job search and, in the process, dodge some of the more deadly pitfalls, such as "So, tell us about your biggest weakness."
- Performance review bragging. How to brag your way to your next raise or promotion.
She even has bragging rites for entrepreneurs and those who are between jobs. Like many self-help approaches, Klaus has distilled her program into 12 steps or "12 tooting tips," as she labels them:
1. Be your best, authentic self.
2. Think about to whom you are tooting.
3. Say it with meaningful and entertaining words.
4. Keep it short and simple.
5. Talk with me, not at me.
6. Be able to back up what you say.
7. Know when to toot.
8. Turn small talk into big talk.
9. Keep bragologues and brag bites current and fresh.
10. Be ready at a moment's notice.
11. Have a sense of humor.
12. Use it all; your eyes, ears, head and heart.
Since self-knowledge is at the core of her program, she suggests budding braggarts complete a 12-question self-evaluation survey (available online at www.bragbetter.com).
Klaus has transformed bragging into a small industry, which she supplies with coaching, lectures, workshops, parties and books (individually and by the case). Not to brag, but her list of institutional clients includes household names such as American Express, Bechtel, Campbell's Soup, CapitalOne, Fireman's Fund Insurance, Freddie Mac and Grace Cathedral.
? Copley News Service
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