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Bring the Right Bragitude to Your Self-Promotion and Success with Lisa Bragg

Bring the Right Bragitude to Your Self-Promotion and Success with Lisa Bragg
Bring the Right Bragitude to Your Self-Promotion and Success with Lisa Bragg

You deserve the opportunities you want, and others can provide the keys to get you there. But if you don’t talk about yourself and your successes, how will they know to open the door and let you in?

Too many people have a hangup about self-promotion. For some, it feels like boasting, which gives off an “icky” feeling. So they tend to shy away when someone, like my guest Lisa Bragg, advocates for bragging about our work. Lisa is a speaker and professional mentor who coaches, advises, and consults with high achievers so they can be seen and heard. She has also written a book on how to properly talk about your success when promoting yourself.

In this episode of the Branding Room Only podcast, you’ll learn why it’s important for you to self-promote, what it means to properly brag, and how to get away from that uncomfortable feeling when talking about yourself. She’ll also discuss one of the myths a lot of us grow up with that contributes to our view on bragging, as well as teach you how to bring the right “bragitude” in your self-promotion.

1:12 – How Lisa overthought and then adapted her idea of personal branding, three words to describe her, four of her favorite quotes, and her #1 hype song

8:52 – Impact of growing up with working-class values as an inner-city Toronto kid

11:49 – How Lisa navigated the professional space differently, learned to overcome her reluctance to share her success, and reframed bragging

17:35 – Why self-promotion and bragging (when done properly) is really about being of service to others and why context plays an important part in its reception

22:29 – How to set yourself up to brag rightly in today’s professional world and why Lisa is so against the elevator pitch

26:46 – Why you still need to self-promote even if you think people already know what you do (and how well you do it)

33:23 – How L’Oreal commercials illustrate a way to get around feeling icky about bragging and practical steps to doing it correctly

37:49 – Lisa’s reflections on viewpoints about bragging from people of different cultures and the problem with meritocracy

44:26 – How Lisa’s new book presented her with a brand-compromising or brand-confirming choice and why passion is her Branding Room Only magic

Connect With Lisa Bragg

Living with the name Bragg, Lisa has had to master the art and science of self-promotion. She’s seen when being too humble has cost international deals, and when bragging right has unlocked opportunities leading to untold fortunes.

Lisa helps high-achievers of all sorts to be seen, heard and share their value with the world. She then takes it a step further to show leaders how to help less visible people on their teams to do the same.

Her book, Bragging Rights: How to Talk about Your Work Using Purposeful Self Promotion, launched in May. It’s based on insights from Lisa’s career as an award-winning journalist, entrepreneur and consultant. Full of interviews and stories from people from around the world. Lisa’s book and talks are also grounded in the most extensive research study on bragging and self-promotion conducted with professionals internationally. 

Lisa Bragg | LinkedIn | Instagram

Mentioned In Bring the Right Bragitude to Your Self-Promotion and Success with Lisa Bragg

Bragging Rights: How to Talk About Your Work Using Purposeful Self-Promotion by Lisa Bragg

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by PGE Consulting Group LLC.

PGE Consulting Group LLC is dedicated to providing a practical hybrid of professional development training and diversity solutions. From speaking to consulting to programming and more, all services and resources are carefully tailored for each partner. Paula Edgar’s distinct expertise helps engage attendees and create lasting change for her clients.

To learn more about Paula and her services, go to or contact her at [email protected], and follow Paula Edgar and the PGE Consulting Group LLC on LinkedIn.

Paula Edgar: Welcome to The Branding Room Only Podcast where we share career stories, strategies, and lessons learned on how industry leaders and influencers have built their personal brands. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Hi everybody, it’s Paula Edgar, host of The Branding Room Only Podcast, where I bring on influencers and industry professionals to talk about how they have built their personal brands, their reflections on brands, their advice for us about their brands.

Today, I have someone who’s certainly going to talk about one of my favorite subjects, which is self-promotion. Well, Lisa Bragg is my guest today, and she has literally written the book on how to talk about success.

Her book, Bragging Rights: How to Talk About Your Work Using Purposeful Self-Promotion, helps people get the opportunities they desire and deserve. She’s a speaker, advisor, and professional mentor. Lisa, welcome to The Branding Room.

Lisa Bragg: Yay, thank you. I’m so excited to be here, really excited. What an honor, thanks.

Paula Edgar: I’m excited to have you. Let’s jump right in. I have a set of questions that I ask everyone at the top and the bottom, but in the middle, we go wherever we need to go. The first question I have for you is, how would you define the concept of a personal brand?

Lisa Bragg: Yeah, and I knew you were going to ask me that. You know what? I think I overthought it for a long time where personal brand for so long seemed like it was all about those people to get you to buy into those photography courses and become a lipstick influencer, like my lifestyle everything.

I think it really tainted my thinking of the personal brand word. I am also quite a wordsmith. My background is in journalism, I love research. I think I overthought it because I’m like, “Oh, personal brand, it has an ick factor.” So I changed, I was going to say evolved, but maybe it’s like just adapted to professional brand.

So that’s where I really talk about professional brand and professional brand is how you show up in the rooms and how people know you in the rooms that you’re in, whatever those rooms are. Very much personal brand, but it’s just that little bit of a nuance that it’s not about becoming a social media influencer.

Well, we do want to have influence, of course, we want to have influence. It’s not about being in the social media world. That’s where I tweaked it a little bit, but it’s not the logo, it’s not the website, it’s not all those things. It’s about who you are at the core and how you’re here to serve the world. That’s really what I want to get across to people is that if we have to say personal brand, it is really the essence of you that you carry with you and that you want people to know you buy.

Paula Edgar: 100%. Something that I get asked this question about all the time, it’s like, “Is your personal brand and your professional brand different?” For me, the answer is no, because you bring the personal to your professional and you bring the professional to your personal. But what I think what you’re getting to is that it is not label-based. It’s who you are and how you add value as opposed to just the labeling that you put on it, which I 100% received.

Lisa Bragg: Exactly, yeah.

Paula Edgar: Anything I love, I get mad when the labels change. For example, Tropicana, when they changed their label, I was irate. But anyway, that’s a whole nother story.

Lisa Bragg: I think we’re also evolving on all of this too. As we refine, especially since we have all these layers to us, people say, “Well, your online life, your offline life,” no, we’re in so many different rooms now, but it’s that we’re getting more in-depth into the study of what does it look like to have a personal brand, a professional brand? What does it look like to talk about success?

Because we don’t have our aunties, our nanas, or grandmothers, or any of those people out there amplifying our successes and talking about us anymore. It’s really up to us to do these things. So understanding who you are, that self-reflection piece is really critical.

Paula Edgar: Oh, I’m so excited. I can’t wait to jump into this. Okay, but I’m going to focus.

Lisa Bragg: Focus, focus.

Paula Edgar: Lisa, describe yourself in three words or short phrases.

Lisa Bragg: Oh, I think maybe you can tell already, I’m pretty passionate. I think passionate is one thing. I love talking about success, what success means, and leadership. I think those are things. But leadership feels like, now that I say it to you, it feels so weak. I don’t know because passion is just so strong. It’s so hot.

Paula Edgar: Leadership doesn’t sound weak at all.

Lisa Bragg: It sounds like a wah-wah. It sounds like I’m trying to sell something but it’s like the passion piece but how can we all be better leaders because I know I haven’t been the greatest leader in the past and how can I continually evolve to the people that are under me, that need my care, that I need to help evolve as we change in this quickly changing world. Yeah, those are my answers. I’ll stick with it.

Paula Edgar: I will tell you, leadership does not sound wah-wah and doesn’t sound weak. It sounds strong. What I love about leadership as a word is that it is an action, it is a label, it is an ethos. It’s all of those things incorporated into it. So I think it sounds really strong. It resonates for me because I do believe strongly in leadership. I think it will be what changes the world when we all realize that we are leaders.

Lisa Bragg: All of us, all of us, every single one of us, no matter your age and stage, for sure.

Paula Edgar: Yes. All right. Tell me, do you have a favorite quote or motto, a mantra?

Lisa Bragg: When I was writing the book, I really thought about so many of the quotes and so many of the thinking and the people who are behind the quotes and was so intentional about all of it.

So many of them are about how we lift each other up together. Some of them are the ones that you know like Serena Williams, “The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up.”

I love also one from Gloria Steinem. It’s about letting each other’s torches and she was told when is she going to pass the torch, when she passed a significant age milestone. She’s like, “I’m not going to pass my torch. That’s not the point. It’s that I’m going to continue to light more torches along the way.”

I thought that’s really significant for the world that we live in. Those are two that I can think of off the top of my head. But I think another one is play long-term games with long-term people. I think that’s another one.

Oh, one more is collaboration over competition. I couldn’t find a source for it. But how do we collaborate instead of thinking about being a competitor? Because so many of us now, we do intersect. We are doing the same thing, but my story is different than your story and we might need different people for different times. Why are we always at this miserly mindset instead of having that abundance mindset where there’s enough for all of us, especially if we’re coming at it from different ways? Those are a bunch of them that I just love. Just sharing all of them.

Paula Edgar: Those were a good set of quotes. I love talking about abundance and that mindset that we are, and I think particularly in spaces where the pie is only so big, we’ve already lost. It’s like, “No, we’re in a bakery, just keep making pie. It’s going to be enough for all of us.” Now I’m hungry. But anyway, that’s enough.

Okay. What about a hype song? This is a song that gets you hyped, like they know they’re going to get 100% of Lisa when you are playing the song or you’re having a bad day and you need it to lift you up and it could be the same song or different ones.

Lisa Bragg: Yeah. I have so many, but I’m not going to give you a whole list again though. But my number one is The Struts Could Have Been Me. There’s a Sing 2 version by Halsey where what it’s about is that it could have been me. If I wait and if I don’t do it, the regret that would come from not living and being present and living my life, I think it’s really a song about regret, and it’s how do I really feel that when I have my inner troll coming to really say, “Hey, don’t do those things. Just play small and stay hidden. That’s okay.”

It also has a very Queen sound to it, the Queen band, like Queen as in rock and roll. It’s really that rock anthem. It’s an anthem that really gets me hyped up and don’t worry when plans don’t work out, just got to keep going. Yeah, it helps me channel my inner rock star. I think that’s why I like it so much is like, “Okay, I’m going to do this and make it happen.” Yeah, Could Have Been Me by The Struts.

Paula Edgar: I love that, and again, the soundtrack that we are making for the podcast is going to be on fire because it’s everywhere and I think that might be my first sound, no, that’s not true, it’s not my first soundtrack song, I retract that and the people who are listening will hear and they will love as usual and they will tell me about it as well.

All right. Tell me a little bit about the Lisa story. Where did you grow up and how did that impact your brand?

Lisa Bragg: Yeah. I’m a downtown Toronto kid. Inner city before inner city was cool and the place to be was pretty gritty and people have quickly forgotten how Toronto was not that long ago. Growing up in a very working-class neighbor with people who are brand new Canadians, I think that brought into it.

We were taught, “Put your head down, do good work. Eventually, someone will notice. You are played by the rules. That’s the only way to get ahead.” I think that a lot played into where I am and who I am.

I was just thinking about who I grew up with and what we would do. The fun part of it is I wasn’t cleaning up, but I’d tag along with my friends whose families would go and clean these office buildings. I would just go and hang out with them because I wanted to stay with my friends and they would be cleaning and of course, I would help out.

Now I walk into those buildings and I remember being part of that and seeing these families cleaning these buildings and hanging out with them while they did their work. I’m sure that would not be allowed now with security. But now I go into those buildings and I teach leadership and I’m doing my keynotes and workshops there.

That’s something pretty interesting to see that going from being a working-class kid and my parents, all that they knew, they hoped I would work for the local transit systems with TTC and be a receptionist, and nothing wrong with that, but that’s the hope that they had for me that that would be a good long-term paying job, not a career obviously, but a job that would keep me safe and be not working in the shop like my dad had to.

That’s the difference of it and just keep your head down. Somebody will notice your work, put your nose to the grindstone. That was all those things that I was told and not the advice that I’m able to give to my daughter today at all. That was a good reflection piece for me.

Paula Edgar: Yeah. I like to ask this question because it’s different than, “Tell me what you’ve done.” It’s a direct connection to really, I think, where our values come from. Values are such a big part of your authentic personal brand, it’s what drives you and having an understanding of how you want to navigate spaces and how you want to impact spaces because of what you’ve seen, what you’ve done, what you’ve been taught.

That arc is a really powerful one. It’s like when you see these things where celebrities are going back to where they grew up and knocking on the door and people are like, “What are you doing here?” Like, “I grew up in this house on that floor.” Because you remember when you weren’t and when you didn’t and now the reflection and now where you are so thank you for that.

Tell me about what brought you from the spaces and places in Toronto to being able to impact leadership and talk in this space with this fabulous, fabulous name to become a professional and thinking about how bragging should be rebranded and it’s just something we all want to do.

Lisa Bragg: Well, I’ll take the first part but you just really prompted that great reflection for me but my whole red thread is really wanting people to be seen and heard. So many people going in being a cleaner in a building, you are not seen and heard. You have people who are nice to you for sure. I think that even helps that imprint of that and then becoming a journalist and always looking for people who were not the obvious.

Sometimes contrary, I’m surprised, but in broadcasting, they always want the same stories. So no matter what network you are with, you always had pretty much the same stories. That’s not good.

When other reporters would zig, I tended to zag and find my own people, find different people who were the same person being interviewed, and wanted to talk to them because I always wanted my stories to be different and not the same old, same old.

So often I’d have people say, “Oh, we’ll go down the hall to Bob or Steve because he’s done it before,” or, “Well, I need another certificate so I’ll feel good about doing it.” Fortunately, I was able to do some media coaching to get different voices, to get people to say, “Okay, I do feel comfortable with talking to you. Let me tell you my story.”

Then I’d see them go off and get more opportunities and do more things and have those steps of courage to get more opportunities and still have those thank you cards today.

Then I started one of Canada’s first content companies. All this lovely stuff we do now, video animation, e-learning, it was all brand new in 2007 back when Justin Bieber was just starting out, but I lock it to those dates because YouTube was brand new and we forget how new all of this is.

So helping companies get their people online and being seen as subject matter experts and then realize that there was really something more than just, “Hey, people get on social media,” there’s so much for us to unpack. Why do we feel so skittish or so icky? Icky is the word that my international research came up with, icky about self-promotion, about bragging. Why do we feel icky, so many of us? So that’s what I really unpacked a lot of.

The second part of your question is how to reframe bragging. My last name is Bragg, as you heard Paula say. Growing up with that last name, I’d have people roll their eyes at my successes. I am one of those card-carrying wanna-have the gold stars, like, “What do you mean I only got 95%?” That’s how I was trying, like, “Go for those high marks,” like it was one of those things. Oh, my goodness.

I’d get those eye rolls when I would get the marks so I would start to hide that I was doing well. I still wanted to do well. You couldn’t take that out of me. But I wouldn’t want to share my success with people. That was a big thing and realized that we do need to share our successes as I got older and if I wanted to get anything, I needed to tell people, “Hey, look, these are the kind of clients I serve,” they’re those people.

So not to hide that I’m successful and that well, my tendency is to be a hidden gem, I need to be out there talking about my work and my successes so that other people will be able to find me. Why bragging though? Bragging originally meant shine and shimmer and bravery. Then it changed into how we know it now, if you look it up, it means to talk about one’s success with pride.

The reframe is, I feel like I need a drum roll sometimes, that talking about one’s success with pride, but pride also means justified self-love, and that’s where we need to give ourselves the pat on the back. It’s not self-aggrandizement, that’s the $5 word that is actually what most of us are talking about when we say bragging, it’s self-aggrandizement.

That’s the ickiness, that puffery, that “Oh, I’m better than you” kind of attitude, that only one person can win. That’s terrible but that’s what we see so much on social media, and it turns us off. That’s not what we want to do. But bragging is a good thing and we need to be out there because it’s about success, telling the world how you are here to serve and so that’s why we need it.

Paula Edgar: I mean bragging has the unfortunate alignment with boasting where people get very uncomfortable with and I’ve had people come up to me, I’m a big fan of self-promotion, and I call it strategic self-promotion, you have to make sure people understand your skill set if you want to be able to be impactful and et cetera.

But I remember somebody coming to me and saying, “The Bible doesn’t say,” I was like, “Oh, my God, how am I going to fight you about the Bible? I can’t fight,” but I said, “You’re saying boasting and that’s not what I’m saying that you should be doing.”

How I flipped it in that one conversation, which really resonates for me still, was I said, “I think that all of us, whatever you believe, those you believe in, whatever deity you believe in, you are a reflection of that. If you don’t, then you’re also not aligning with what is [inaudible].” Then I remember the woman being like, “Ah.” I was like, “Yeah, I got you.”

Lisa Bragg: Yeah, good for you. I’ll add another tool for you. It’s how we are of service. If we are not talking about ourselves in some way, shape, or form in a proper way, but if we’re not doing it, then we’re not of service to the world. Because then they’re going to go to somebody who’s mediocre and then they’re not going to get what they need in the world.

The reframe for all of that is how we are of service and letting people know, “Because that’s how I’m here to serve. I’m here to help people be seen and heard.” That’s where if I’m just my hidden gem, hoping that people will find me on my tiny piece of the internet, I think they’re going to go to somebody else. That’s why it’s being of service to other people.

Paula Edgar: I didn’t think of this question before, but it just came to me, which is this: do you see any difference in the dynamics between embracing the call to action to brag appropriately and how it’s received differently, if at all, between men and women?

Lisa Bragg: Between men and women?

Paula Edgar: Mm-hmm.

Lisa Bragg: You know what, so much of it is all context-based. You and I are talking about being successful and doing all our successful things and everything but when you’re in different audiences, that’s where some people just don’t understand and that’s probably the person that you were talking to in your last story.

It’s like they don’t understand because it’s context-based. Again, you and I could be standing in front of our yachts and really own those yachts, but if we didn’t really own them, that’s the difference.

Paula Edgar: I like the visual though.

Lisa Bragg: Yeah. But they know it’s not our yachts because we haven’t shown them the moments along the way, the moments that matter. We can show us, “Yes, we’re in front of our yacht,” but if you haven’t shown people the way, then that’s the problem. The context matters.

That’s why sometimes our families, love them, but they don’t understand us because they see us just as maybe that teenager or that kid, they don’t understand who we’ve become so they don’t get our successes, especially our siblings too. That’s where there’s friction. So context matters.

But when you’re with people who are your peers or want the same things, it doesn’t sound like it’s problematic. But how men and women brag and talk about their successes, starting the book, my bias was, it was I’m a white Canadian woman and I thought it was like me, I’m trained especially to be even more so polite, even more so pass the mic, it’s rude to take the mic.

It’s almost like I’m just here as a bystander to support you. One of the jokes was like somebody said to me once that Canadians like to be number three. Are we playing to be number three in the world? Like okay. So I thought it was a bias of mine. Then I thought it was also biased against men that men were not into it.

Then I realized talking to, I was in an event and I was talking to a woman from New York, I thought, “Oh, there’s no way New Yorkers are going to be interested in my premise of this book.” The woman says to me, “Lisa!” She’s just the most well-coiffed and just to the nines and all of it, she said, “Lisa, of course, that book is for me. I’m Catholic.” I was like, “Oh.”

Then somebody told me from the Midwest, and then somebody told me from Australia with tallest poppy, and then somebody from the UK, and then India. Then people from New Canadians. It was all these different stories that I gathered from all over the world and the research showed that there is more of a tendency for women to gravitate to my work.

It’s interesting though that men are wanting to support their teams and are bringing me in almost faster than women-led teams. I’m getting a lot of men saying, “My team needs this. They’re so awesome. They need some help. Can you help them?” That’s been really interesting, but the research also showed that intersectionality of socioeconomic class almost was higher than that.

Now I would love my research to go deeper, so the research survey is still open, but what I found was socioeconomic class really led the way. If you are of a lower socioeconomic class, like one of my first stories about the cleaners, you don’t want to get out of line. There’s too much risk to step out of line so then you continue to put your head down, do good work. You’re told that eventually someone will notice you.

Oh, you’re not being noticed? Then you’re not working hard enough. That comes into play with people. Do women still like my work and support it? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. But I think there’s a lot of men at the table and they are sending me some notes too, which I just find so satisfying to get those notes.

Paula Edgar: Fantastic, we’ll definitely include the link to the research in the show notes.

Lisa Bragg: Thank you.

Paula Edgar: Yeah, let’s definitely get some more information out there for Bragging Rights, the remix, or whatever the next book is going to be called.

Okay, so what is bragging rightly? What does that mean in today’s professional world? How do you do it properly?

Lisa Bragg: Yeah. There are lots of ways to set it up. But when we want to brag, we want to really know who we are, what we stand for. It’s all the things you talk about. Being authentic, knowing your values, knowing what you want to get out, being intentional, those things.

We’re not just talking about everything. Nothing is worse than that soccer mom or the new mom that lists off all of her great things that her little baby just did like, great, awesome, but we want to be really strategic about how many things we say. That’s one of the pieces of it.

Context again, really matters. Then it also matters that we’re thinking about our future selves. Where do you want to go? So many of us get stuck on our reputations and I’m sure anyone listening to your show, their reputation is already solid. But it’s about the future you. What is the brand promise? Where are you going in the future? That’s really part of the whole bragging right combination. Those things come together, but it’s that we want to make sure that we’re telling people why we are here, what we are here to do, and how we are of service.

Paula Edgar: Is that mostly done in terms of when you’re thinking about the strategy that most of us get? Is it the elevator pitch? Is that when we get the opportunity to be like, “First of all, listen to this and this,” or are there other ways that you think incorporating the bragging rightly has the opportunity in other places?

Lisa Bragg: I’m going to also be controversial again. I am anti, anti elevator pitch.

Paula Edgar: Tell me everything. I love controversy.

Lisa Bragg: Yeah, yeah. The elevator pitch, well, so few of us are taking elevators nowadays too but the elevator pitch, it’s that I’m pitching to you, I’m selling to you that you should be sold to. Anyone here loves to be sold to, I’m sure everyone in the car is saying, “No, like no one wants to be sold to.”

What we need to have nowadays is long-term games with long-term people. It’s more relationship-based than ever before. Before it was networking and networking. Yes, we need to network, but network, connections, relationships. So we need to get more into relationships with people.

It is longer, it’s less transactional. That’s where I think the elevator pitch is all about transactional. “Here I am, blah, to you,” then we’re not really playing the game of it all. I think it’s really how do we make sure that we’re humans having a human experience with each other and letting each other know how we are here to serve, if I can say that one more time, but it’s how are we here?

So I’m taking the elevator with you, what am I going to say? I’m going to say hello and talk to you about what just happened as we got on the elevator or just say hello and have a conversation.

But if I had 30 seconds with you and I tried to sell you something, this is not an infomercial world, you’d change the channel. You would be looking at your phone so fast and away from me and you couldn’t wait to get out of the elevator.

But if I said something interesting, especially something interesting about you that I’ve noticed, then you’re going to be more likely to lean into me and have a conversation. So how do we start a conversation that will then lead to maybe a story? Because storytelling is so important, that then leads to another story and another story. That’s how humans actually connect.

We forget this, I think, from all these sales opportunities, like always be closing. Yes, we need to sell. For sure, we need to sell. But how do we also make sure that we move from just this head-centric world that AI is also going to take over, too much more of a heart-centric or an intuition or whatever you want to call that next sense, how do we move into that? Because I think that’s the way things are going to be.

I think we’re seeing more and more people allow that to happen as some of the skills that we need to have. We need to have these storytelling skills in our workplaces over and over again so we can understand each other more. That’s a critical piece. We need to understand each other more and more and more, and we need to talk about it.

Paula Edgar: Yeah, it’s that EQ layer over the IQ that really makes people able to navigate better in the world as opposed to just the IQ because that ain’t enough. When you were talking, I hear about the elevator pitch. I’m also thinking about how bragging goes into our interactions with each other, both internally, like if you’re in a business, internally, how people know what you do and how you can do it, and then also externally. Some of the things that I often hear is that people will say, “I don’t want to self-promote because people already know what I do.”

Lisa Bragg: Well, yeah, you and I both chuckle, but isn’t that great? They already know what you do. Okay, first of all, probably not enough people know what you do, but how do you also then project the future you? Are you just going to stay as you are in 2024 when we’re recording this? Like, “This is me today.”

I think we always need to be projecting our next level. I’m not saying that all of a sudden you need to go from only wearing purple to then wearing every color of the rainbow, but you need to project where you’re going next. That means just, yes, you’re common right now and we know you where you are, but are you not going to move forward? Are you not going to do something different soon? What is your next project?

I always want people to say, instead of like, “Who knew?” But saying, “Well, what’s next? What’s the next opportunity?” Because so often, people don’t know what we’re doing. That person that says, “People already know what I do,” people don’t.

People are so into their own lives. They don’t have a clue of what’s going on with you and all the awesomeness that you have to bring. You have to tell them. You have to tell them again. Then you have to tell them what you told them again.

Paula Edgar: People forget that we have one of the biases that is clear in our society, which is the recency. If you’re not incorporating it somehow so that people will remember, that’s not how it works. That’s a power, I think, of social media, where I will have not seen somebody for 10 years and they’ll be like, “I feel like I see you every day,” and I’m like, “Because you did. Thanks.”

But if you’re not thoughtful about it, people won’t remember what you do or remember it from when you did it five years ago, to your point about future you, and you’re doing something totally different now. I think it really does incorporate into the branding concept because I believe brands are supposed to elevate and iterate as you become different and then for that, you have to be able to tell the story, to be able to brag appropriately at each thing, and then about what you want the next thing to be, to your point. I love that.

Lisa Bragg: Oh, Paula, that’s so good because when I was back when I was a broadcaster on TV, I went into a local convenience store, hadn’t been there in five years, had left the station or had left news by then. I think I’d left news. So I went into this little convenience store and they recognized me.

I was so touched. It was one of those places I’d get food and water and would talk to them all the time. I was so touched that they remembered me because I had moved away.

They said, “Oh, we saw you on the news.” I’m like, “What?” They thought I was still on the news because that’s how they always remembered me. That’s that whole recency. They have a bias towards that. They think it just had happened when it hadn’t.

Of course, they didn’t know all my new details, but they thought it was just recent too. It’s so interesting how our mind fills in the gaps unless we then tell them, “Well, no, here’s where I am, and here’s where I’m going.” Because you never also know who’s going to be that next opportunity.

If we’re telling people where we’re going to go and that we’ve left where we’ve been, that’s a big help for all of us. Yeah, those people were so generous and so sweet, but I’m like, “I haven’t been here in five years.” I’m like, “Where?”

Paula Edgar: It’s so true. I’ve done, I think many people have, they do different things and they emerge into different spaces, and one of the things that I used to be, like my hashtag was Coach Paula, it still is, but I don’t coach people individually anymore, but I always say, “Are there vehicles to be able to give you the information I think that you should hear?”

I’m Coach Paula and right now, but I was at a conference the other day and somebody was like, “Yeah, this is Paula, she’s a coach and a speaker.” I was like, “Uh, uh, uh, let’s bring her back around.” I was like, “Yes, I’ll always be those things, but forward is I’m a speaker and I’m a podcast host and all those things.”

Of course, I did it with grace so that they didn’t feel like, “Oh, my gosh,” but it was important so that that person would never say again coach for it because how people talk about you is another part. I believe in self-promotion being self-driven, which doesn’t mean self has to do it. Like, “Hey, do you know the X, Y, Z thing? Now go off and tell everybody who you know.” That’s still self-promotion.

Lisa Bragg: Yeah, that’s the pinnacle. That’s where we want all these brand ambassadors and champions to be out there talking about us. We should do the same. Of course, we’re going to do the same for each other. But that’s where we need to make sure people know what’s our point of view of the world, what are our values?

We need to articulate it because they’re not going to remember all of those things about us. We need to be putting it on the different touch points that we can. It can be social media, it can be an email, or an in-person visit. It can be any of those things, but we need to let people know so that they can be that person.

Again, we think everyone’s mind reader and it’s going to promote us and talk about us and help us into those next rooms, but they’re not without us actually saying things and having the voice to say, “Hey, here’s where I’m going.”

So often we think we have to broadcast it to the world, but we can narrowcast it. It can be an audience of one that you keep telling that one person, “This is where I’m going next, this is where I’m going next.”

If it’s that one key person, they’re going to help you get there eventually. That’s where we need to be strategic about it. But yeah, you’re not going to get there just sitting back and waiting, you’re just not. But I love that you helped that person to see the new you because who knows where that’s going to help you along the way? We all have portfolio careers now too. We need to know, “Here’s how you can use me in the world.”

Paula Edgar: Oh, I love that, portfolio career. I love that as a term.

Lisa Bragg: Yeah, oh, good.

Paula Edgar: Taken with attribution.

Lisa Bragg: No, no, no. That’s the thing. We’re all here based on the shoulders of giants. I pick it up. That’s why we live in such a beautiful knowledge-sharing world right now that I can give it to you and you can pass it on and make it your own and make it bigger, and how do we help so we have this language that really will elevate all of us? I think that’s where we can say, “Hey, this is where I learned it from, but now I’m moving it forward,” I think that’s a beautiful thing of this world we live in.

Paula Edgar: I love that. Okay, so tell me, I’m going to jump forward here, we’re talking about skills and what it means to brag rightly, brag correctly, et cetera. What are some of the practical steps of actually bragging rightly?

Lisa Bragg: Yeah. If you want to start to do it right now, I don’t know your audience, I’m not sure their age. But no, it still stands today. But those L’Oreal commercials, “Because I’m worth it.” Do you remember those? Because I’m worth it with the hair?

Paula Edgar: Yes, of course, I do.

Lisa Bragg: Well, in the ’70s, it was actually really quite the, it wasn’t controversial, but it was quite a movement forward for how they executed those commercials because it was the woman talking to the camera in her own first-person voice and talking about her own looks instead of somebody, it was usually a male voice commenting on a woman’s looks in the past.

This ’70s commercial was revolutionary and it was a young copywriter who, I forget her name, but she was just 23 years old and she’s the one who came up with the “Because I’m worth it” that we know now and because she’s worth it, because we’re worth it, so now we’ve moved on with all the different campaigns that they’ve had.

But the word “because” allows us to have that change so the commercial for L’Oreal, it’s because they were worth it, they cost more money, way more money than the competitor so how are we going to get people to buy it? Well, it’s because I have self-worth, because I’m worth it.

The way we can get around feeling icky about the bragging part of it, the actual talking about our successes is the word “because.” I’m successful because I’ve read all the books or I’m successful because I’ve told 100,000 people my mission or whatever it is, those are silly examples, but it’s “because.”

If you can give it a because, it softens it a bit. Of course, I’d love you to stand in and say, “You know what, I have a $4 million business,” stand in or a billion-dollar business or a trillion-dollar business to be silly.

Paula Edgar: Because I’m great.

Lisa Bragg: Yeah, because I’m great. That’s why it’s like, “Huh?” If you can say, “I’ve done this because,” you can change it instead of “because I’m great,” it’s “because I’ve really thought deeply about it. I’ve taken action.” Because if we just say, “I’m great,” people are more like, “Huh?” But it’s because I’ve taken action. I’m great because I’ve taken action.

You want to say, “I’ve made the success because I’ve had action, because I’ve done something, because I’ve studied under Paula,” whatever it is, and you can give somebody, have that bragitude, so you can have a brag—and I did not make that up.

Paula Edgar: I love that.

Lisa Bragg: But it’s a brag, plus a thank, you tied together is a bragitude. You can say, “I am successful. Thanks to you, Paula, for having me on the show.” “I am gaining more people in my audience. Thank you, Paula, for allowing me to be on the show.” That’s a very simple example of what bragging is.

I am saying I am becoming more successful. I am doing greater things, but I also want to thank the people that have helped me. So when you put them together, it’s braggitude. It’s a good thing because thanking people is another piece of bragging. Like we’re saying, “Hey, I’m successful. Thank you.”

That’s another thing, because otherwise, we’re not saying anything and then that’s just downright rude. Sending a thank you card is one of the simplest ways to brag and self-promote, one of the simplest ways that anyone can do right now.

Paula Edgar: Thanks to you, I have an award-winning podcast. You are one of my guests, like that.

Lisa Bragg: Yes.

Paula Edgar: I love it.

Lisa Bragg: That, my dear, is beautiful. Bang, it’s gold stars to you, 99.99%. But that’s exactly it. That way we can send that out to people. They’re like, “Oh, yes, Paula’s successful and I’m part of her success.”

All of us want to be part of each other’s successes. That’s another thing with my international research. I found that 85% of us want to cheer you on. We want to hear your brags. It was 12% that said they would ignore you and 3% said they’d turn around and brag about themselves.

Well, I’ll take that, I will take that big time. So we do want to hear success stories and we do want to hear that you have an award-winning podcast that’s beating the charts and we are thankful to be your audience and also thankful to hear your guests. It’s the knowledge exchange. Yeah.

Paula Edgar: That’s great. One of the work that I do is around professional development, particularly my love of personal branding, across industries, but in addition to that, I bring this lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion with an understanding that there’s intersectionality. There are different voices and people who have not been traditionally heard.

When I think about some of the pushback that I’ve gotten about self-promotion, it’s been, “That’s not what we do.” Insert whatever the “we” behind that is, and so there’s just a cultural disconnect sometimes with the concept of bragging. What is your research to bring about that, or what are some of your reflections around bringing bragging to different audiences and having it resonate in certain ways?

Lisa Bragg: It’s so interesting because the other day I had a woman who’s Latina said to me, “Oh, well, I don’t really need this because, as a Latina, we’re told to brag and we’re told to be va-va-voom and out there.” It’s so funny because I had other people not that long ago say, “As a Latina, we are told to be demure, to not talk about our successes.”

So it’s so funny because it’s so much about intersectionality, about where you are, what your family brought to it. Culturally, we all think it’s our own culture. That’s the thing like, “I’m a Canadian woman, we’re taught to be this and this.” But then I found that people in India, one of my interview subjects, she said that a lot of it was about what will they say? What will they say? Who’s going to say things, and “Who is they?” she said, that we’re so worried about what other people will say when we do these things.

In Australia and in the UK, they have the tall poppy syndrome where people cut each other down for their successes. We have it in North America too, but that’s really where it’s got momentum and a lot of research behind it. We all have our little claim to it.

It was interesting though, the people from Japan, it’s still very much a collectivist society. They are not used to having this individualistic self-promotion, but a lot of people are now working for international firms where it’s expected that you will fill out your form of where you want to go when you’re networking and all the things that you’ve done and the taking credit for things. So in a global world, how do you do that?

It’s been very interesting to see that a lot of people have a challenge with it, then how do we overcome it? I think a lot of it is because we’re still used to being part of an agricultural society. I know that sounds so old, like what, on the farm?

Paula Edgar: [inaudible]

Lisa Bragg: Yeah. But we were taught, again, to just do the work. But then again, like I said, we have our aunties, our nanas, our grandmas, and they would tell everyone, “Hey, Lisa should definitely not do that and Paula should definitely do that.” They would tell, everyone would know. But now people don’t know because they don’t know us. There are so many of us out there. So again, we have to let people know that we are here.

It’s just culturally, I do get into it in the book in different ways, but it’s also so many of us have the same myths growing up. Stay in line, put your head down. The cream rises to the top. Meritocracy. A lot of those things come into play in the book.

Another controversial thing, meritocracy sounds great, but when you pull out the layers of it, are you close to power when you say these things, when you do these things?

Adam Grant, great author, so many good things, but he over and over again propagates bragging violates modesty norms and if you were that good, your work would speak for yourself, something like that.

But how can your work speak for itself if you are not near power? How does anyone know if I’m doing great work and doing great things, but I’m nowhere near them? I’m not in the circles of influence. I need to be able to get into the circles of influence.

The only way I’m going to get there is by talking about my successes, so somebody will either open the door, I’ll break down the door, or whatever needs to happen, but that’s the start of it.

It’s not going to cure all, of course because generationally, it’s systems. But the more people can have conversations, the more people like the two of us can have conversations and spark something in our audience’s ears, minds, and hearts, then things can start to change.

Paula Edgar: Yeah, yeah, I 100% agree and have heard particularly about Adam Grant so much of sort of the mountaintop pitching, and it’s like, “Well, I’m down here in the valley so I don’t know if your message is not getting to me in the same way because I don’t have the opportunity to get to the mountaintop,” and the way that privilege impacts our ability to have a platform.

So I 100% agree with that. It’s that lens that we need to sort of think about whose voice aren’t we hearing? Why, and how then do we use our platforms to bring those voices up with the understanding that bringing those voices up does not minimize our own space?

There’s enough pie for all of us, back to the food, so that we can all grow and be better together, which is why I love when men—and particularly with the thing about the gender dynamics—when men understand some of the privileges they’ve been afforded within workplaces and societally, and then they take it as their mantle to say, “I’m going to shine a light. I’m going to elevate and amplify women strategically,” because it doesn’t take away from them. It actually gives them more. But it also then helps to drive equity in profound ways.

Lisa Bragg: That’s such a beautiful way to put it. Absolutely. How do you partner with more people to help all of us rise? We can learn from each other. That’s where when somebody else, an older man, is working with a younger woman, they can learn from each other in so many ways.

That’s why it’s not just like, “Let’s help the new generations,” let’s help everyone right now to make some changes that we all need to make. Because it’s good for all of us, necessary for some, good for all. We need to grow in that for sure.

Paula Edgar: Oh, I love this. Okay, so of course, because this is what always happens, I’m like, I have so many things I want to ask you about. Okay.

Lisa Bragg: Part two.

Paula Edgar: You have to come back clearly. Well, first of all, I haven’t had a chance to dig into the book as much as I want so you’re definitely going to have to come back so I can be like, “Remember when you said this thing? What did you mean about that?” So please, anytime you want to come back and have a chat, this is a topic that I feel like more people need to incorporate and talk about anyway.

We can do as many times as you want because they need to hear it and they need to start to do it. But I will close our part of the conversation by asking you two questions that I ask everyone, which is this, what is an aspect of your brand that you will never compromise on?

Lisa Bragg: Yeah, and I’ve had to do some deep thoughts on this lately because when you have a brand new book, there are so many ways to run the system. There’s a system with a book. If you want to be on the list, you have to pay. It’s a pay-to-play world.

Very few people are there on their own merit, very few because it’s a system and it’s a game. I had to challenge myself, “What game I’m playing? Am I playing the organic one-to-one reaching, growing, or am I going to buy my way on the list? So I had a hard time with that.

I really did, honestly, because a lot of people, “Why wouldn’t you buy your way on the list? It’s just marketing.” But for me, it just felt incongruent. It didn’t have that “Who I am” vibe to do that so I had to say, “Where am I? Am I more organic and word of mouth and growing that way of really true followers, true engagement, true partnerships with this? Or am I going to buy the list?”

That was something I had to really stand on. When I was thinking about it, I’m like, “What does that really mean?” I think I have to always be authentic to myself and I felt it like, it feels here even telling you with this confessional podcast, it felt like it’s like here that I’m like, “If I do it, if I get on the list, you know that I’ve done it.”

I think that’s a little bit of my (sigh). That might fall back into my “gotta work hard for everything” kind of thing. But I think it’s just how I am.

Paula Edgar: I think that resonates. It’s like where people will be like, “You’ve been nominated for this award. For $79.95, you can get it on a plaque and you can also be in a magazine. Buy. Click here,” and then, yeah, you get the honor.

I see people use this all the time. They’re like, “I was awarded the top blah, blah, blah.” I’m like, “I literally got the same email and I chose not to pay for that thing. I mean, good on you because again, there’s a lot of superficial bragging and branding that happens out there and if you’re not an engaged and knowledgeable audience, you think that the work has been done to get those things versus “Here’s the dollar that I paid to make it happen.”

That actually rings really true to me when you say that, that you want to brag about what actually happened, not what you paid for.

Lisa Bragg: Yeah, and I think you picked the right word, it’s superficial. But part of me laments that I can’t just do it. But part of me is like, “I just can’t.” But some of me, like, “Take the easy way.” It’s that what’s on my shoulder, which is on the most shoulder at the time. But it’s that superficial, I just can’t, I think you can tell I’m pretty authentic.

Paula Edgar: Yeah, and I will just jump on the good side of your shoulder and say if you don’t feel good, don’t do it. Then you resonate more with people because you’re being authentic.

When you see the thing and then you’re like, “Oh, that’s not who you are,” it is such a disappointment versus being like, “Oh, I knew that’s who that person was the whole time.” Because they didn’t [inaudible].

All right, well, the second piece is Branding Room Only is a play on the term standing room only, so my question for you is, what is the skill, magic, or experience that someone would be in a room that’s only standing room only to experience about you, Lisa.

Lisa Bragg: Oh, so good. You’re a master of some questions here, my friend. But I think people are drawn to my passion. I think that makes them lean in and be more curious about why I’m so excited and want to really drive these ideas home.

I think my passion is a little bit contagious sometimes so people are curious about me because of that. I think it’s that. I think I give off enough of that vibe that people give me a little bit of opportunity that they’ll listen and be curious about what I have to say.

I think that’s a good thing because I was criticized for being too passionate before and that’s a problem and that’s their problem, not my problem so it’s a passion.

Paula Edgar: That could be a whole other podcast so we can go in and talk about that piece and maybe we should. There are enough people that I know have had that experience where I’m like, “There’s some there that we need to address and put out in here.” I’m going to write that down as my part two.

First of all, I want to thank you so much for spending some time with me and talking about this, getting this bragging right. Tell me and tell everybody else how people can connect with you, how can they find about your work? Of course, we’re going to put the link to the book on our show notes but tell it to everybody.

Lisa Bragg: Yeah, come find me at Then I’m also on all the social media channels. Well, not all of them anymore, because there are so many of them, but LinkedIn is the number one, so come find me there. I’m also more on Instagram lately and it’s @thatlisabragg and I’m happy to follow you.

I do have some free things on my website that you can come and get to. I just appreciate all of you. If you do get the book, no matter what, actually just follow me and I will cheer you on. It doesn’t matter if you have the book or not, but hashtag anything Bragging Rights and I’m sure I’ll come and make sure that I engage with it and cheer you on on all the things that you’re doing. Thank you.

Paula Edgar: Love that. Thank you for being in The Branding Room, Lisa and everybody. Tell a friend, tell a friend’s friend, and tell everybody else, “Why don’t you brag rightly about Lisa Bragg being on my show? Talk to y’all soon. Bye.