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“Smarmy” vs. Sincere: A Give-More-Than-Take Marketing Answer

After talking recently with a young freelancer friend about the necessity of regularly letting people know who you are and what you have to offer, he said, “But promoting myself makes me feel so…”

“Smarmy?” I said.


Ah, the Smarmy Factor, as in insincere, oily and ingratiating. Just listing the antonyms makes you feel like you’ve eaten a deep-friend candy bar wrapped in bacon.


So here’s my 2-to-1 formula for staving off the Smarmy Factor:

2 sincere gives for every 1 take = more good in the world than selfishness

For every time you call out to the world about what you have to offer and why people should pay attention, send two shouts outs that help someone else or some other cause that improves the world.

I don’t really believe in selflessness. As animals, we humans make sure we get something in return for our efforts, even if we’re unaware of such calculation.

But as thinking beings, we can make a conscious effort to help out everyone who helps us achieve our goals. By doing so, we can avoid creating a personal ladder only for ourselves that functions by stepping on everyone’s head to rise, and instead help form a vast raft that helps us all rise together.

Photography of Lisa Kristine

I was thinking about this while in Sonoma, CA, this weekend where I wandered into the gallery of Lisa Kristine, which is filled with fabulous, vibrant photographs of indigenous people from around the world. Her motto as a photographer and “humanitarian change maker” is “inspiring unity through imagery.”

Here’s my motto: Create for good, and help others do the same.

How can I help you?

I’ll provide you with updates about my book while also passing on useful information to you writers, readers and thinkers!

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