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Showcase Your Value

I was chatting with my friend who's a personal trainer. Despite working hard and knowing his stuff, he was hitting a wall when it came to finding clients and boosting his income. This is a frustrating reality many of us can relate to. As we talked more, he realized that while training people is part of his job, an even bigger part is sales and marketing — areas he hadn't focused on much.

Recently, a local bodybuilding contest ended in some controversy. The winner wasn't the guy with the best physique, at least in our opinion. It was a dude who nailed his posing routine, flexing at the perfect moments for the judges. Meanwhile, the most jacked guy was just an okay poser. You could tell he'd worked very hard on building an amazing body but somehow, he treated the posing part like an afterthought.

Suit Guy Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash

At Large Bank Corp, my team built an incredibly fast pricing engine for the company's in-house trading desk. I kept my head down, never even visiting the trading floor. I was proud of the fact that traders had no idea I existed, even though code I was responsible for supported transactions worth millions of dollars every single day. Meanwhile, my buddy Jim worked on their risk software. Every evening as trading wrapped up, he'd make the sad trek from our office to the trading floor, where traders often berated him for bugs, yelling in true NY style.

However, when appraisal time came, we needed feedback from peers and colleagues. I knew everyone on the trading floor, but they didn’t know me or my work. Meanwhile, everyone knew Jim. To them, he was their buddy who fixed their bugs — even if I thought those bugs shouldn't have existed in the first place. I barely scraped by while he came out with multiple commendations from the traders. Any guesses how that translated into our bonuses? Now compound this over a few years, and that's some serious damage, both financially and career-wise.

To most of us, this seems unfair — and we could spend hours debating it, blaming companies for choosing salesmanship over actual work. But organizations are just people, and people are busy. Our managers juggle a million things. As tiny cogs in these large machines, it's easy for your work to go unseen unless you showcase it. So when someone gets rewarded for work you think is lame, but they put in the effort to sell themselves and be seen, it stings. Still, that's how it goes. No one will care about you or your work if you don't first.

And don't get me wrong, marketing yourself isn't about padding your resume with random crap or making up BS and faking productivity. It's about making sure the right people notice the real value in the work you're already doing. It's ensuring your effort and results aren't some quiet background noise but actually get heard loud and clear. Essentially, it’s about visibility.

The truth is, we all do some selling and marketing when interviewing for jobs. The problem is we promptly forget about this key skill as soon as we get our foot into the door. Blame it on complacency or familiarity or ignorance. The ultimate result is we end up denying ourselves financial and career growth opportunities.

I think we should start learning these skills early on in our careers. I wish they taught this in school. However, I also believe that its never too late to embrace these critical skills. Just because I let myself be in denial about my lack of self promotion for several years, doesn’t mean that you have to as well.

Once I realized how flying under the radar was hurting my career, I made some changes. I started documenting everything, logging all my work to have proof. I made sure to present at demo days and put a face to my work by meeting stakeholders. I also began giving talks to share my knowledge with other teams. These simple moves shifted my trajectory positively.

To be brutally honest, writing these posts plays a role in this journey as well. I'm still in the process of figuring it out, encountering plenty of setbacks along the way. It's far from easy.

The big takeaway is that getting good at marketing your work isn't about ego or self-promotion. Don't let your hard work fade into the background. Step into the spotlight and showcase the real value you bring.

Shoutout to Rahul Pandita for his feedback on this post.

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