Thursday, March 20, 2014

Toot Your Own Horn, But ...

It's been awhile, the new job has happily kept me very busy, but I've missed sharing my ramblings with you.  Speaking of ramblings, my favorite uncle had a lot of great sayings - he's the one who taught me about jackasses.  If there was anything he said more often than that one, it was that you have to "toot your own horn because no one else will do it for you."

When I was 16 I had no idea what he meant.  Over the years, I've learned the wisdom of that saying, and have slowly learned to speak up for myself professionally, which was hard for me as I'm an introvert and don't like drawing attention to myself generally.  However, I started with touting the "wins" that are less obvious - a favorable settlement that didn't cost the company as much as it could have, closing a deal quickly without giving away the store or even just reducing the amount of outside counsel spend for avoidable issues, and went on from there.

While it's necessary to be your own biggest cheerleader, it's a fine line between informing relevant people about your success and a more unsavory bragging.  As lawyers, that line gets even thinner as we're fighting the stereotype of the know-it-all blow hard overachiever.  And as in-house lawyers our jobs get even harder because our bosses and colleagues don't always know what a "win" looks like.

Because of that, my tune these days revolves more around metrics and bench marking than soft wins. I only sing it to people I know will appreciate them, and I try to focus more on how my team is helping the company achieve it's goals more than what a great job I'm doing personally.  I'm seeing a lot more success and recognition from this approach, and don't feel like I'm artificially fighting for a spotlight.

So, go ahead and toot your own horn - just make sure it's a catch tune.