Business Advice

Stop trying to sell yourself


It struck me today that we are often asked to ‘sell’ ourselves. In job interviews. In presentations. In any situation where we need to win people around, we need to ‘sell’ or get them to ‘buy'[-in].

Aren’t you worth more than that? I think you are – and here’s why…

Commodities can be bought and sold.

Are you a commodity? Are your ideas commodities? Does your creativity come off a production line, ready packaged and with a Best Before End date stamped into the lid?

The more of something there is to sell, the lower its worth.

How much of yourself are you willing to put up for sale? How many sales pitches are you prepared to make to get people to buy in?

Every time you sell yourself, are you putting more of yourself out there, lowering the unique value and worth of what’s left?

When something’s sold, it’s gone forever from the supplier. It becomes the purchaser’s property.

Are you someone else’s property? Are your ideas chattels to hang on some corporate wall, divorced from the brain that got woken up by them at 3am?

On the flip side, the less of something there is, the more people want it.

That’s why Apple don’t send out enough iPhones to satisfy demand on day one. They want people to want. To pant. To create ‘value’ in a box of electronics over and above the total cost of production. To artificially inflate perception of demand and value. To increase sales yet further.

There’s only one of you. How much is that worth? How many shares are in your personal stock?

So what’s the answer?

I don’t know, precisely. But I do know that we should stop thinking that we have to sell ourselves and our work, or getting people to buy-into it.

Individuals and creativity aren’t commodities that can be traded.

Perhaps we should be talking about collaboration or partnership.

Or shared attention.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe in the next pitch meeting, we should be trying to create joint attention rather than looking for an outmoded outcome.

Let’s see where that approach takes us.

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