Arrogance & Writing in Self-Center Person

Posted in Blogging

First day on the job as CBS Affiliate Creative Director, General Manager & friend Terry Hurly offered advice which has served well for 15 years. “Marty, when you send memos, do interviews, or otherwise deal with media or your employees, give OTHERS credit-sometimes even if you did it.” He continued, use the words “us,” “we,” “our” and not “I,” “me,” or “my.”

business-person-in-mirror

Years later, as the aimClear growth plan gestated, a dear Friend Dan Thralow sent over Jim Collins’s famous book “Good to Great.” Truly great leaders (level 5) share a number of mostly-common traits. One of them is crediting others (looking out the window) for success and taking responsibility (looking in the mirror) for failures. External factors contributing to success could include luck, excellent team members, & market trends.

Failure often stems from lack of a coherent game plan, inviting the wrong team members onto the bus, & not facing brutal truths. Tactic or trap, writing from the self-center person can be an intentional grammatical style book decision.

Ego, Humility, Team, & Brand
Blog posts, especially in the early days can be intentionally crafted to, at least, give the appearance of humility, selflessness, propensity for team work, and even brand your company as growing.

Brand
Many new bloggers we see miss the opportunity to communicate the size and depth of their organization. To say “we” is a fully ambiguous term. It could mean you and your strategic vendor partners, your husband playing devil’s advocate, or your dog. aimClear was “we, our, us,” before “we, our, & us” had a single employee. Ironically, now our support staff is 4.

Humility
It’s easy enough to be arrogant, especially if a person has little going for him or her. No matter how big a rock star we ALL get turned off by “me, me, me”. Even if there are truly no other humans participating in the process in any way, be very intentional in not writing “I think this” or “I did that”. Try counting how many times you write from the self-center person in your last three posts.

Time and Place
There is a time and a place for writing from the self-center person. When you really feel like making a point, that’s when to shout “Hey that matters to ME!” This is particularly useful when launching a good rant or humbly acknowledging a sweet accolade.

It’s sometimes hard to craft decent sentences, writing from self-experience, WITHOUT writing from self-center person. It’s an acquired taste. It’s also important to take personal credit where credit is due. It is a fine line. The best way is often to write the post from the self-center person, go back through, and take out all but a couple self-references.

Case in point, though, this post is entirely about my experience and opinion I did not use any self-center person words, referring to me, until this final sentence. :)


  • JMorris

    Like many posts that have been published in the first few days of this year, this post spoke volumes. Words that have fallen on ears that needed to hear them.

    Thank you for this excellent post, Marty!

  • Marty Weintraub

    Jim, yes the last couple of days seem have been incredibly fertile for many bloggers. There’ have been some cool posts. Thank you for your kind words.

  • Nick James (swags2804)

    Hi Marty,

    I like to go by the creed that a little humility goes a long way. Agree on all your points. Great insight. Thanks!

  • Marty Weintraub

    Thanks Nick. We appreciate your participation on the aimClear community.

  • Marty Weintraub

    BTW, here’s a post which makes a great case for why the word "I" SHOULD be used all the time. He He

  • Gyutae Park

    Hey Marty,
    Great article, but I think you’re taking it out of context. In Good to Great, Collins was referring to teams and giving credit where credit was due. However, in terms of blogging, “I” is probably the most important aspect because it’s what makes any blog unique and interesting. Without it, all blogs would be the same.

  • Patrick Allmond

    Definitely 1000% true. This is a rule that all bloggers should live by. Even though you (*I*) am the one producing the content the posts and information should be about and/or for the person reading it. I read blogs so I can get something out of it for me. I don’t read them to make you more money or you more productive.

    http://stopdoingnothing.com

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Gyutae: It’s possible to write blog posts that are intensely personal, all about the writer’s personal perspective, and still be selfless in the vernacular.

    Of course credit where credit is due is an essential concept. That said, I speak of the colloquial mechanism embodied in SAYING “me, me, I, me” without having to use the words. It’s a powerful cocktail and makes for blog posts with tons of personality wrapped up in a modest tone. Writing this way makes the “I’s” resonate when you DO use them. It’s nice to have you stop by.

    @ Patrick, thanks for the perspective.

  • Mark Dykeman

    This resonates with me. I’ve read Jim Collins with interest.

  • Trisha

    The only downside to this technique is the propensity to write in a passive voice and come off as factual where the information is actually pure opinion. Your average reader would not be able to pick up on the fact what you have written (in this post most especially) is not to be taken as gospel, because you have successfully sold opinion as fact – to the average reader.

    The critical thinker however, will notice that you have only referenced one other person, but not as a resource. You are not quoting studies or linking to references – which points to the idea you have not come to these conclusions via externalized research.

    This is technique, in essence, is a different form of propaganda, stemming from the magic words of marketing.

    Whether you consider this to be a bad or good thing all depends on what you wish to do with this blog. Far be it for me to say the way you write is wrong – perhaps a bit deceptive, but given your demographic I’m sure they can understand your intentions and come to the same conclusions I did. =)

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Trisha: I think you comment is outstanding. One aside, the technique is rather powerful in articles which ARE packed with facts, figures, backup, and external studies. Then, it becomes an entirely different animal than the “propaganda” editorial technique you correctly identified. Thank you for stopping by.

  • Trisha

    Either way, you’ve definitely got your head screwed on straight! =)

  • Gary

    Business blogging is rife with self-center person. On toddcohen.com, the first page alone has name (not including headers, sidebars, etc,) 34 times, he uses “I” 48 times, and me (21), and my (28). The domain, header, logos are Todd or pictures of Todd, he even calls his podcasts “Toddcasts”. All “Todd” all the time…

    In another, salesguruonline.blogspot.com, there are similar stats: I (61), me (14), my (35), but it’s less obviously about the author and more about sales.

    It’s very tedious to sort through self-promoting, self-serving blather on these sites and find something meaningful or truly insightful. Apparently, blogs are like microphones — having one makes you an expert — and I guess the attention is addicting for some people as well.

Join the Conversation