Brag!

Brag!


Peggy Klaus

Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It is next to useless. The voice is pushy, every story comes to the same conclusion, and it’s only useful for people who are already one-percenters. All useful information can be found on pages 23-24.

Brag! is all about self-promotion. She will, very technically, teach you how to brag about yourself without making others uncomfortable. Klaus’ selling point is that she’s a Fortune 500 communication coach, which gives the subtle implication that she helps people become successful. This isn’t true. Klaus works with people who are already Fortune-500-level successful. Her stories about bragging are largely focused on people who have already achieved great things and just don’t know how to talk about themselves. 

In a section called When You Don’t Have a “Real” Job, she brings up a woman names Cheryl. Cheryl was terrible about bragging to the point that when she said, “I did some volunteer work with some local hospitals,” she actually meant that she’d helped raise $15 million for the new pediatric wing (pages 140-141). 

Similarly, a section called When You’re Out on Your Own introduces a man named Roland. Roland is the CEO of a multi-million dollar company, and he agrees to meet with Dru, the son of a friend. Now, Dru has an impressive background (Ivy League graduate, multiple years of financial structuring and project management experience) but had never really gotten his hands dirty. Dru goes into his meeting with Roland trying to impress with style and money. Roland declines. 

What Klaus takes from this experience is that Dru didn’t do his research (i.e., Dru didn’t realize that Roland came up from nothing and wouldn’t be impressed with money), and that he should have tried connecting to Roland with with something substantive rather than stylish (pages 158-162). What I took from it, and the main reason I deemed this book useless to the layman, is the fact that most of us are Dru. We’re asking for advice on how to brag because we don’t feel we have anything to brag about. 

The majority of us aren’t downplaying the $15 million we’ve raised, and we don’t have the substance in “substance over style” that Klaus preaches about. Most of the people picking up a book on how to brag are entrepreneurs, people looking for jobs, and dreamers. They’re just starting up. Klaus said Dru should have done his research, but if Roland’s problem was genuinely that Dru hadn’t done anything to get his hands dirty yet, no amount of research would fix that. 

The one piece of advice that’s both useful and constantly upheld throughout the manuscript is that bragging is best-received in story format. If you tell a story about yourself, people connect to it more. They remember it, and they like it. 

Pages 23-24 contain Klaus’ “Take 12” self-evaluation. It’s twelve questions about yourself, and you’re encouraged to cut the answers together to form a story that’ll do the bragging for you. The book says you can download these questions for free at http://www.bragbetter.com, but that website no longer exists. I’ve listed the twelve questions below.

  1. What would you and others say are your five personality pluses?
  2. What are the ten most interesting things you have done or that have happened to you?
  3. What do you do for a living and how did you end up doing it?
  4. What do you like/love about your current job/career?
  5. How does your job/career use your skills and talents, and what projects are you working on right now that best showcase them?
  6. What career successes are you most proud of having accomplished (from current position and past jobs)?
  7. What new skills have you learned in the past year?
  8. What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today, both professionally and personally, and what essential lessons have you learned from some of your mistakes?
  9. What training/education have you completed and what did you gain from those experiences?
  10. What professional organizations are you associated with and in what ways—member, board, treasurer, or the like?
  11. How do you spend your time outside of work, including hobbies, interests, sports, family, and volunteer activities?
  12. In what ways are you making a difference in people’s lives?

And now, as far as actionable information goes, you’ve read Brag! If you liked this and found it useful, please share it on your socials and with your friends. You can sign up for my newsletter here. If you have any books you’d like to see on Too Busy for Books, you can contact me here. I’d love to hear your recommendations!

Thanks for reading,

–Jack

One comment

  1. This was quite helpful. Thank you! Glad I didn’t have to read the whole book. It’s definitely unnerving that the target audience seems to be fairly exclusive. Such a shame.

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