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I Grow More Powerful By The Second...
Today is the first day I feel like I’m getting back to my old self. I still am extremely tired, I’m coughing, I get random bouts of fatigue, but I’m able to type words in the computer for work reasons, versus just whining in a newsletter (sorry, again).
Soon I will reach my true form:
The Hell of Lists
Mike Murphy of Protocol had a tweet that really summarizes how I feel:
Today I was left off some list of top PR people, and I’m a touch bitter, mostly because, well, I consider myself good at the job, haven’t had to lay anyone off, and have kept this business going, and in fact taken business from people on the list. I won’t link it, but I’m bitter because some of my peers seem to get on these lists by accident while doing bad work, and I am doing good work. But also, it’s kind of the feeling of the year that everyone’s had - two steps forward, three steps back, and the fact that 2020 has felt like one long month. It really does somehow still feel like summer, despite the fact that it’s indeed December.
These lists are ironically a result of the amorphous blob of public personas - the existence you have based on the perception of someone that gets you somewhere, that’s not exactly based on your actual achievements but more on the evaluation of the public achievements in the brain of someone else. The Forbes 30 Under 30 was one that bothered me (I’m 34 now) because I got to the finals when I was 29, only to be beaten because Gary Vaynerchuk chose an emoji marketing CEO (I am not kidding). That’s because this guy had raised $X million and was quoted as an expert around emojis (?). These lists are a painful, because on one hand you don’t want to be on them because they’re stupid, and they’re a dilution of actual achievement, but you do want to be on them because they matter. They’re SEO. They’re an achievement.
And I think even the most self-confident person wants someone to publicly say they’re good at something.
The discourse around the 30 Under 30 is usually focused on the fact that there are 600 people on the list, as it’s split into industries. The discourse flows from there about how being on these lists isn’t important, and that they’re just a facile summary of people who have privilege. And that’s sort of correct, but also sort of not. We very rarely as people get the opportunity to even hear “good job” from our bosses, and even more rarely do we get public accolades for our success.
This gets compounded further with jobs like mine - where the very job is to make someone else publicly successful, and thus when there’s a rare list of people behind the curtain who get the spotlight, it’s hard to not feel jilted when you’re not on there.
The 30 Under 30 or “Best Of” lists are by definition tough because they’re usually marketed as objectively-written but, like literally anything, have a level of bias. It doesn’t matter what it’s about - top podcasts, top articles, top anything, really. Popularity contests are hard, and something I’ve personally been bad at, on account of being a polarizing asshole at the best of times. I think a lot of people who are extremely online are like this, and say they don’t want to be on lists, but definitely do, and love being on them, and love the attention, because ultimately we are human beings that like being told that we did a good job.
In 2021 I may do more self-promotion, but (ironically considering my job) I’m not sure where to start. I could start randomly offering myself up as an expert to talk about PR stuff again. That was…eh, it was alright. I’m not sure. Self promotion is tough for anyone.
Anyway, thanks for reading.