I have been reading the discussions regarding “movers and shakers” and the “self-promoting elite” with great interest. See these posts (and many comments on the first two) at The Shifted Librarian, Walt at Random, Caveat Lector and The Liminal Librarian. I find it very interesting how a post about how libraries can keep the people doing great things can turn into a discussion about self-promotion. But I think it’s really indicative of the general attitudes about self-promotion in our profession (and really, in most helping professions).
A little over a year ago when no one knew me, I really didn’t mind being a “drudge.” I’ve always hidden from the spotlight and that’s why I liked blogging because I could write, but still be somewhat anonymous. Ok, it didn’t really work out that way. Not only am I being asked to write articles and speak at conferences, but somehow I got a book deal out of my blog. This was never my intention, not that I’m complaining. Somehow, the more recognition I get, the more uncomfortable I feel. The more I am mentioned in the blogosphere and asked to write things and speak at conferences, the more worried I become about how people perceive me. Why?
The day the Movers and Shakers issue of Library Journal came out, the fact that two Vermont Librarians were named M&S was announced on the Vermont Libraries e-mail list, and my Director then sent an e-mail out to everyone at the library letting them know about it. Strangely, that entire day, no one else at work congratulated me. I went to a public services meeting and no one said anything to me about it. I just felt really weird about it — sad and embarassed. A day that should have been so happy for me was the exact opposite. I was actually embarassed for having been named a Mover and Shaker.
Where I work, there really isn’t a big push to speak at conferences and publish. And the vast majority of people don’t. So each time I get some sort of recognition, my Director publicly congratulates me and I feel embarassed. Why? Because for some reason I feel like I should be ashamed about getting so much attention when other people at work are not. I worry that people will think I’m an egomaniac or a “shameless self-promoter.” I even feel too embarassed to tell most people at work about things I wrote or when I’m giving a talk they could attend because I feel like I’m “tooting my own horn.” I just feel like a jerk. What’s the deal?
If I am a self-promoter, I have to be the stupidest one in the world. I started the ALA Wiki because I was sick of being clueless at conferences and because I thought it might help others too. I take opportunities (like chairing HigherEd BlogCon or doing an OPAL talk) based not on money or what will get me the most attention. I take them because I feel committed to the promotion of free online education/conferences or because there is something that draws me to them. I just agreed to give a talk beacuse a friend of mine was going to be there! I am a complete idiot about money. The first time I agreed to speak at a conference, I thought when people mentioned a “small honorarium” that it was like $30. I found out a friend of mine is getting paid to do something that I agreed to do for free. I am horrible at promoting myself and asserting my worth because I am not used to thinking that I have all that much worth. And yet the opportunities keep coming and some even pay. I asked a librarian whom I consider a mentor for advice about money, and we both felt very weird talking about it. Why?
I’m willing to admit that part of this has to do with my own inferiority complex, but since I entered the blogosphere I have sometimes heard people talking about how this successful librarian or that well-known librarian is a shameless self-promoter and that they don’t deserve the recognition they get. Ouch. And the more I think about it, the more I wonder if people are really shameless self-promoters or if they kind of fell into this because they did something good. Maybe they became known for something and then lots of people started talking about them. Maybe they were asked to speak at things and write things and they had to get savvy about promoting their interests because otherwise they’d be speaking for free when everyone else was getting paid. Or maybe they were just more savvy in the first place about promoting the work they did so that it got people’s attention. Is there something wrong with being smart like that?
Not only do I think self-promotion is not wrong, but I think we should offer classes on it! Like Rachel said, self-promotion is an art that we librarians are really bad at. I feel so clueless about this stuff and it was so helpful for my mentor to tell me about how much people get paid and what I should ask for at this point in my career. We should be helping each other learn how to promote ourselves at work, get people to notice the good work we did, deal with book contracts, how to write proposals, how to build an audience with a blog, which publishers are the best to work with, which conferences treat their speakers the best, etc. Because this knowledge does not magically come to us when we get our diplomas. If we don’t promote ourselves, we will not only not get attention for our hard work, we will likely end up getting screwed.
You know what? I’m pretty damn proud of everything I’ve accomplished over the past year and I’m not going to keep being embarassed about it. For someone who has spent 27 years of her life not getting recognized for hard work, it’s nice to finally be on the other end of things. And from here on in, I am not going to feel guilty for all of the good things I have accomplished. Yay me!
You should be proud. What you do with wikis and library work is the sort of thing that is a service, you know, like a national treasure. I wonder if some of the feelings about self promotion for some people come from the school days. I know for me they do. It was the days when if you did something really good in class, your teacher would make you stand in front of class, or just announce it to the whole class as your classmates hated your guts for, one rocking the boat, and two, making it look like they were doing less. I am willing to bet this is why in some workplaces the one who does the publishing, etc. gets resented. He or she is making the rest of us look bad. At any rate, that is a big reason why I hate being in the spotlight, personally at least. I am not saying that may be your case, but I have seen it enough in my experience to wonder if some of that is in play in the latest discussions.
Personally also I wear the label of “drudge” as I would a badge of honor. Maybe that is another reason I hate being on the spot, because I often know that there are so many others that could be there instead, were it not for the proverbial “grace of God.” Not to mention that very often, those others made it possible for me to be there, and they never get any recognition. To me, the Movers and Shakers are not just the ones who get the names out, they are the quiet ones who actually make things work, and more often than not, do just as much to make the M&S look good. But that is me. You keep doing what you do best. We certainly need it in the profession.
Best, and keep on blogging.
Yay you, indeed. You’ve done interesting work, made a notable contribution to our profession, and lots of people have heard about it. That’s something to be proud of, not embarrassed by.
Excellent post. Although I’m not yet a librarian (still getting my bachelor’s), self-promotion is really, really hard for me. (So I guess that means I’ll be a good librarian? Just kidding. :)) Talking money is awkward, and I still have no clue what to tell people. Doing things for free or a small amount is easy and sits well with my conscience, yet I can’t help but wonder if I’m ripping myself off. Anyway, I’d definitely be interested in more resources on self-promotion.
this comment turned into such a long post that it needs to be on MY blog (which is about ME! ME! ME!–and duh, whose personal blog isn’t?), but all I can say is you do great stuff, Meredith, and anyone who doesn’t appreciate that, past, present, or future, is a dork, and that includes those wienerheads I’d like to b—h-slap for not patting you on the head for your well-deserved recognition.
I may have said this in my comments on Walt Crawford’s post, but I think that people who are truly “self-promoting”–as opposed to promoting and publicizing useful ideas–don’t last long. It doesn’t take too long to discover that the Emperor is under-dressed.
Like Karen, I hope to post on this soon at length on MY Very Special Blog (which I encourage everyone to visit frequently).
Also, that is too bad about your co-workers reaction to the M&S news (you weren’t wearing a “Mover & Shaker” sash and tiara at the time, were you?). I hope the comments on IWTBF made up for it a bit. I believe my co-workers would be more excited for me, but I also feel like I have two important sets of colleagues now; the ones at my library and the ones I have come to know in the biblioblogosphere.
I think the whole issue of asking for money and self-promotion are just vestiges of the usual “how much are we worth” argument that goes on everyday. I still get greif from people because I “sold out” and left the public library world to go “corporate.” Whenever anyone tells me I’m “lucky” to have landed a good job, I know it wasn’t luvk. It was years of hard work and determination and seeing a need to fill some gaps that needed to be filled.
I look back to my first salary negotiation. I was so completely unprepared that I ended making almost 50% less than my peers. I didn’t know it was acceptable to be hard and stubborn on money (in the public and non-profit library world, we had to take what we got). Money used to make me uncomfortable. Now I know I can ask for and receive what I’m worth.
Even before blogs, you tended to see a small selection of names as speakers and award winners. There are just some people that through both determination and hard work manage to break out of the crowd. Are they shameless self-promoters? There’s always going to be a few “one-note library celebrities” in the crowd, but I think most people do have things to say (not that I agree with all of them).
I say be happy with the accolades and not guilty. You deserve to be lauded!
OK, I’ll say it again: I meant shameless self-promotion, I said it badly, and I applied it to the wrong group. And I’ve apologized for that.
There is nothing at all wrong with making your accomplishments known. Many of us are bad at doing that. We should probably be better at it. I’m trying, in my own little way, to note some of the accomplishments of others–you’ve been mentioned more than twice in C&I, and likely will be again.
Walt, I really hope you didn’t think I was attacking you or was even commenting on what you personally said. The whole conversation just brought up a lot of issues I have and things I’ve noticed generally in the profession. I didn’t want to comment on the issues until all of the arguing was over because I didn’t want to get into the fray. But self-promotion is an interesting issue and one many of us need to be better at.
I guess I often wonder… what is shameless self-promotion? What are examples of it? I think sometimes it’s all in the eye of the beholder.
I am a regular reader of your blog, and we have chatted a few times on IM; but I rarely comment, because, well, I am not a librarian. I do; however, work in the lateral field of grant writing and still find myself doing some management. It seems like there is a lot of ven-diagram overlap between your profession and my desire to find information and collaborate (Web2.0, search standards, meta-tags, et al.)
This whole self-promotion non sense is ridiculous. It seems to me that the only thing people hate more than a loser is a winner. No amount of self-promotion will KEEP my interest in any person, company or website. So I see no need for censure, from ourselves or form the outside. If you have the content to back up your “promotion” then you are anything but shameless. Last I checked the things which you would be promoting about yourself, that is your desire to set free that information that wants to, “be free” would do a lot of people a lot of good. If you were not to share that early and often with the rest of us – it would be like a soup kitchen setting up shop with out signage…
I find it easier to parse out the difference between blowing my own horn and spreading my knowledge when I consider the product. Is the product me? Is the product what I know? If it is the latter, I do not allow myself to feel shame. As for the money – the market decides that. Your lectures are worth precisely what you get paid for them. That’s the beauty of capitalism!
Meredith, No, I didn’t think you were attacking me. You were using a comment and the brouhaha that ensued as a springboard: Nothing wrong with that.
As for what constitutes shameless self-promotion as opposed to appropriate self-promotion, I would say first that there’s no way my internal list of those I consider shameless self-promoters is ever going to surface anywhere. Otherwise, it’s a little like the traditional judicial definition of pornography: “I know it when I see it.”
Except that I think Doug Geiger has offered a pretty good definition here:
“I find it easier to parse out the difference between blowing my own horn and spreading my knowledge when I consider the product. Is the product me? Is the product what I know? If it is the latter, I do not allow myself to feel shame.”
Thanks, Doug: That’s more articulate than anything I could say, and I don’t see any reason to disagree.
It’s okay, Walt, nobody’s mad at you.
Besides, this is bigger than this one fracas. I have some of the same problems Meredith’s talking about. I get approached with “how much is your honorarium?” and I don’t even know what the correct ballpark is. I don’t understand when I should broach the topic of money instead of glory.
Frankly, some advice from people who have been in the field a while (HINT, HINT) would be immensely valuable. If nothing else, it’ll keep us clueless newbies from ignorantly undercutting the market for more established speakers and writers — which is absolutely a bad thing for us to do.
Thanks Walt, librarian complements for articulation go down so smoothly! lol Let’s not examine the grammar…As Dorothea Salo mentions, it *would* be nice to see some suggestions for compensation from others in the field…
[…] Resume « Shameless self-promoter […]
Meredith asks “what is shameless self-promotion? Is there an example?” At the risk of taking some heat from others with broader definitions, I’ll try to give an example (I think Walt can relate to the “taking heat” comment).
I tend to come down on the more conservative side of this issue. If you are asked to divulge recent accomplishments, by all means provide them – such as when one of our professional associations is compiling a list of member accomplishments. I always add publications, etc. to our faculty accomplishments list so others on my campus will know I’m professionally active.
Blogging has taken self promotion into a new dimension because now individuals have their own platform to constantly remind readers about their latest publication, that so and so mentioned their latest post, that they’ll be giving a paper at a conference, and so on. Again, that sort of thing annoyed my conservative sensabilities a few years ago, but this seems to be more the norm these days, so it hardly seems like getting worked up about.
However, when I read this comment in someone’s blog I thought this goes over the line. The post essentially said (and I can’t recall the exact words but this gives you the gist of the post) “I was somewhere the other day and someone I don’t know came up to me and said, ‘Oh, I know you’ – I read your blog’. I think I’m really getting known now.”
Now, I ask you, was there any reason for this blogger to share this information except for the purpose of brazenly massaging their own ego. If you get some praise, if someone acknowledges you did good work, if someone tells you they like your stuff – that’s great. You should be proud. Some recognition is its own reward. But why do some bloggers feel compelled to tell everyone else about it? Maybe you should just keep it to yourself and feel good about it. Consider that you don’t need to tell everyone – if you are doing good stuff – they’ll know it.
So I would say that while I can’t exactly define shameless self promotion, I think I know it when I see it (and others have a point that it’s relative and in the eye of the beholder). I imagine that some of you have a higher threshold than I do for the line between sharing good news or telling colleagues about something you did that can really help them too – and shameless self promotion. But when you start giving your readers boastful information about yourself for which they have absolutely no need to know, if there is absolutely no way it can be beneficial to them, and your intention in writing it is primarily to make yourself feel good about yourself – then you have probably just entered the shameless self-promotion zone.
Dorothea, I think you already know my answer: I haven’t a clue as to the “proper” size for an honorarium. My personal website–which only exists because, back when I was speaking, it turned out to be a really convenient way to provide the info that conference organizers needed–includes my current waflling o that topic. But since I’m not really speaking much (or at all) at this point, that’s not terribly useful. I tightened up my own guidelines after a lobby-bar discussion with another (but much better!) sometimes-speaker suggested that my prices were too low. (If I was doing consulting–which, as a rule, I don’t for a couple of very good reasons, including fairness to potential clients–I’d go back to my consultant friends to refresh the “understanding” I gained a decade ago.)
For what it’s worth, my current starting point, after saying “What’s your going rate?” and taking it if I liked the invitation and it was at all plausible, would be:
For the “conferences I love”–state and regional library asociation conferences, where I attend the whole shebang and usually learn a lot from the real-world librarians there–at least $500 plus full expenses. For any other conferences, at least $1,000 plus full expenses. But both are negotiable. For the record, actual fees (outside of very local conferences) have ranged from $300 to $3,000, in all cases plus expenses, but probably 90% have been in the $500 to $1,500 range. In most cases, the higher amount is for a keynote. Since I almost never do the same speech twice, it’s also for a partially-new speech in every case.
Was I undercutting the market? Only for Name Speakers who work through agents and get five-digit fees, I’m guessing. Was I pricing myself out of the market? Unclear.
I’d love to hear other suggestions from people who continue to be in demand. But I sure do understand if people are reluctant to name prices; it’s awkward, and tends to smell of…well, I’m not going to say that phrase any more.
One other tiny correction (though my MLS-holding wife would as soon I didn’t keep saying it): Doug, while I’m a library professional, I am technically not a librarian; I lack the degree..
Hey Meredith: I’d been pushing people to put “Library 2.0” success stories in your Library Success wiki. Apparently there’s a new Library 2.0 wiki, which seems likely to attract such stories. Will there at least be links between the two (or are there already)?
I must admit, I’d rather see all of the keen, working, proven new services through one gathering place, regardless of whether they carry certain labels. But that’s just me..
Hm. I tend to let that go the first couple-three times a blogger mentions it, because it IS a surprise the first time it happens, something noteworthy enough for comment and even a little celebration. Nor am I wholly against the idea of using a blog to record the good things that happen to us; that can be a motivational tool and a guard against burnout.
But if that’s all or most of what I see in a blog, yes, I agree it’s pretty tiresome.
Oops, my previous comment was in reference to Steven Bell’s.
“But why do some bloggers feel compelled to tell everyone else about it? Maybe you should just keep it to yourself and feel good about it. Consider that you don’t need to tell everyone – if you are doing good stuff – they’ll know it.”
I think the great thing about blogging is that if you don’t like it when people do stuff like that, you never have to read what they write again. I think for many people, especially those who are new to the profession, it’s sort of a pleasant surprise when things go your way, when someone you think of as “above you” in some way looks upon you with favor. Similarly when you realize that there are people who look at YOU the same way, that’s a milestone of sorts.
Blogs range from the pretty-personal to the totally-professional and everyone draws their line differently and everyone draws the line of what they want to see differently. I like reading the “how was your day” blogs the same way I like reading more work-oriented, less personal blogs. I know that every time the “shameless self promoter” meme comes around I always think “is this about me?” but I also thought that way when the library memo came out against employees wearing hot pants. I wasn’t sure if I had done it, but the memo was just a general “to staff” memo.
As far as going and talking to people for money, I took some of my original guesses at honorarium and the like from Walt’s page, though I usually ask for much less. This may be part of selling myself short, but I usually ask for expenses (food and travel, loding only if I can’t stay with someone nearby) and for anyone that’s NOT a library school (I try to go to them almost for free), a small honorarium which I don’t think has ever been above $400 and is often less. I am supported by my work to a level I’m usually comfortable with and I see this sort of outreach as part of that. If anyone wants specifics, they can email me, I’m happy to share.
I can’t speak for others but for me the self-promotion I do on my blog has a lot to do with the lack of recognition that I felt was being given to the good works of others as well as the good works that I did. If your job won’t spread the word, you have to do it yourself. For people who want to see things from the field that aren’t quite there yet, this seems to be the most prudent way to step up to help “Hey I did this, you can do this too, here’s how…” I realize this is not exactly what people are talking about when they say the self-promotion bit rubs them wrong, but I think for nearly every blogger I know, this is at the root of why they do what they do, even if the result may seem like something else.
I’ve totally been guilty of writing about my early excitement that people were reading me. But it was not meant in a bragging way — and I don’t think anyone who writes that means it in a bragging way. It was more of a Sally Field-esque “you like me! you really like me!” than a “hey, look at who likes me, aren’t I cool?” Because I was genuinely surprised and happy and I wanted to share the fact that I appreciate people’s readership. When Jessamyn commented on my blog after I’d just started it, I was totally floored (I didn’t know then about the whole ego feed thing)! And now she’s a good friend of mine and I’m just as pleased but a little less shocked when she comments. I personally LIKE reading happy posts about people’s accomplishments.
It’s one thing for people to write stuff like that on a blog that combines the personal and the professional. It would be a little weird for Steven Bell to write about stuff like that on ACRLog or for me to write about it on TechEssence. It’s all about the platform.
As to people mentioning publications or when they are speaking, I think that falls under the “promoting the product rather than the person” and I don’t see it as “shameless self-promotion” at all. I like to know when someone I like has written something I can read — I find the info useful.
I honestly think it’s just human nature to be excited about someone or ones liking what you do. And maybe blogging about it from time to time. Or at least mentioning it to random strangers on the train.
I’ve always been terrible about letting people know what I do. Both at my institution and in general. Rarely submit stuff to our college newsletter and thanks like that. I think it’s more general shyness or whatever than embarassment or being seen as a “self-promoter”.
And I definitely don’t mind when people mention where they’re speaking or talking about how it went afterwards. Colleagues usually ask me how talks went when they know I’ve done something so I post about it on our internal blog and now on my blog. Not that the 2 people who read it necessarily care, but it makes a good record of what I’ve done and where I’ve been for nostalgia purposes!
I have been thinking about this some more today; and would like to add to my previous thoughts. In my first round I spent a good deal of time evaluating what is considered “self” promotion versus product promotion. But as I read more of the comments and ideas bumped into one another in my head I felt more of my focus landing on to the idea of shamelessness (if that is a word).
Self-promotion is a necessary evil within fields that lack objective measures. At least the ones that lack codified objective measures. What I mean is this: plumbers either fix the pipe or not, salesmen either sell the thing or not, mechanics either fix it or not. On the other hand professors are not made to prove in any real way that their students are learning. The grade is handed down by fiat, and we are left to assume whether or not any real talent exists in the person hiding behing that string of abbreviations. All of academia is built on feeling and self-promotion. It is swinging around a degree or the name of one’s alma mater that is shameless…mention it, sure; the other lemmings require that you do…but don’t hide behind it. In my experience it is the the professions that offer the least tangible service to others that rely the most heavily upon shameless means. “This is the most reverend blah blah blah…this is doctor so and so from yada yada yada”
My question as harsh as it is, is simply, “what have you done for me lately?” By “me,” I mean the world, the given community, be it religious, academic or otherwise. I will give examples: What church did Mother Teresa attend? What degree did Einstein have? What was Bill Gates’ GPA? People that are producing do not fear being judged by their merits, and I would go so far as to say resist being given a nod by anything but their merits. My motto is, “work very hard to find the one thing the world needs to hear that only you can say – then find the biggest megaphone you can say it into.” Alternately, don’t even bother whispering some silly credential.
To bring this back around, and to be sum up my thoughts; if you are doing something well, and have found your voice: please use it often and with the highest volume you can shy of distortion. If you accidently get a rush out of recieving unexpected praise for that which IS praiseworthy please share it. I, for one, do not want to recede into the damp catacombs of top-down communication from which we have come; and to prevent that we must accept that with “real people” publishing information as they see fit in essense “bumping into” one another online – in the worlds first true democracy – there will necessarily not be the same decorum as we had in Communication1.0. Hopefully, the mores with regard to online publishing will adapt quickly as the line between personal and professional continue to blur. In the meantime, do not be at all surprised to see accusations of all types. Fortunately, because this is an unregulated democracy – the cream will rise and rise quickly and appropriately! Meanwhile, the under-delivering truly shameless self-promoters will not have to fork out too much money for bandwidth for long!
PS: If you see shades of Atlas Shrugged in my thoughts: guilty as charged.
I’m so bad at “self-promotion” that I can somehow make the first comment I’ve left someplace that includes a link to my new-fangled blog not post! So I can use all the help I can get in that area.
It basically said it doesn’t bother me if people are excited about being recognized and post about it on their personal-ish blogs. I’m bad at telling people what I do too. Upcoming speaking post don’t bother me either. Nor do recaps after the fact. I post those on MPOWs internal blog since people ask how my presentations went (usually just how many people came) and will do it on said new blog. If only to keep a record for my own nostalgia.
Meredith – Can’t remember if I related this when we discussed the no congrats for M&S thing before, but I received a collegewide award for “leadership” last year and while some folks were very cool about it I received several backhanded “compliments” that mentioned that my getting said award called negative attention to our weird faculty/ staff hybrid status. And continued to do so for months afterwards. Pretty much took any enjoyment out of it. And my name was misspelled on the plaque.
This is such a great post, and really timely for me as I was trying to decide whether I should post a “yay me!” post today (I got travel news).
I know why I find it difficult to discuss what I’m doing, despite the blog being a way of cutting down the barriers – I was taught when I was growing up ‘service before self’ (my Grandfather is a Rotarian, I was a Girl Guide) and believed that you would get the reward you deserved if you worked steadily, quietly and earnestly enough. I still think that’s true – but there are some kinds of work that need to be announced or linked to.
eg – Even if I want to send staff an update on a conference I’m organising or an event that’s happening, I will wait for someone else to pick it up off another email list and post it out to staff – I won’t do it myself.
As for fees for conferences: I would recommend also talking to conference organisers before setting your fee. Some speakers set a fee that they know organisers can’t afford because they want to deliberately reduce the number of offers they get, others have no fee (especially academics) and yet others charge a reasonable fee. Distance and length of stay might also impact a fee.
Having invited keynote speakers to an event recently, it is crushing when someone you want to invite is available, willing to fly halfway around the world, etc – but we couldn’t afford the honorarium on top of the airfares and other expenses.
As always, thought provoking stuff going on here.
I was thrust into the biblioblogosphere when BoingBoing picked up my Master’s Paper, and suddenly I was getting commented on by Walt, Jessamyn, Karen, and other “big names”. Freaked me out for a little while, needless to say. I don’t think that I was “self promoting”, but even if I was…so what? As a profession, I’ll agree with the commentors above: We need to be shouting ourselves hoarse from rooftops!
I would love to see (hint, hint) some of the current crop of “invited speakers” updating the new wiki area with some thoughts on honorariums. Having $$ matters discussed in the open is the only way for us to get past the awkwardness of talking about it.
I kind of feel awkward, but seeing Fiona’s comment made me think a bit more about what I posted earlier as my comment. The whole idea of service before self is something that I live with (I think a lot of librarians, social workers, education people and similar also live by this). I am an Eagle Scout myself, so that notion of serving others is very ingrained. Like Fiona, if I get some honor, I don’t announce it. I let others notice and announce if they wish. I recently got admitted to some selective program (no, I am not saying), and my director was like, “oh, give me a copy of the letter so we can announce it.” I actually said, “why would you do that?” I know, it sounds dumb on my part, but she simply said it was because it was good for the library (ok, so she made it sound a bit more diplomatic than that; it’s her gift–diplomacy). I guess self-promotion does not come easy? Well, you folks can either forgive the confession or tell me that I will burn, but thanks for listening (reading) either way. Best, and keep on blogging.
Actually, I figured the “mover & shaker” designation was only fair and abundantly-earned recognition of what you do — lots of creative work, for a start! Me, I’d probably have insisted on champagne and flowers! It takes some courage to put your work and your ideas “out there” for others to see and respond. Congratulations — and thanks. mg
Meredith gets great conversations going: No arguing that. Sensational.
I’m dropping in again partly because this is fascinating, partly because I want to emphasize Fiona’s point:
First, ask what the conference is ready to offer–unless you’re not interested in doing the conference. Then work from there.
I’ve tried to stress “negotiability” while providing an informative baseline. I wouldn’t have a baseline at all, but in a majority of cases, the people asking really wanted me to provide one. But it’s always accompanied by “Well, what’s your usual?”
I can think of some state conferences (“state” has a broad meaning–VALIA was a great time in Australia, but it wouldn’t make sense to ask me back; BCLA was also first rate) where, if they asked again, full expenses plus a really good meal might be enough (that’s not a hint; in any case, the Alaskans already know that–but only in Fairbanks or Juneau). [Not putting down TxLA or WashLA or WiscLA or FLA or whatever the Colorado association is called or NYLA or… but AkLA is special in its own way.]
But I also know that a lot of conferences really don’t have a suggested price point and are quite capable of finding sponsors to underwrite certain levels of speeches.
If I’ve served as a starting point for others, “Oops” and “You’re welcome” both apply. Don’t assume that I know what I’m doing when it comes to appropriate fees; I’m just more upfront about my experiences–and about clarifying “full expenses.”
Now, to wait for yet more of this remarkable multisided, non-bitter, open conversation. Great stuff.
As a blog reader, I’m enjoy seeing people celebrating their successes on personal blogs. Why shouldn’t they? I like the feeling that I’m getting to know a bit more about the writers, and it often encourages me to look more closely at their work. I think most of can distinguish from people who genuinely have something to say, and choose our writers carefully.
But I’m surprised, though, that no one else has picked up on the lack of acknowledgement Meredith got from her work colleagues. I’ve seen the same thing here when our Head of Department circulates an email message congratulating someone on an achievement (and I work in an academic department, not a library). What does this say about the organisational culture? Down here (New Zealand) people talk about “tall poppy” syndrone – the tendency to cut down people who stand out from the crowd. Is that what we’re suffering from?
The only place I’ve seen the “celebrate your success” idea work is in a research group I occasionally attend. Everyone participates in the “circle of guilt” (I’m sure you can guess what this is about”, but at the same time there is an opportunity for anyone to say something good as well. Perhaps we need to look for more opportunities for to create a culture where everyone can celebrate their achievements, without it being seen as “self-promotion”.
Brenda, that “tall poppy” comment hit a chord. I remember being told early on in my career to expect resentment from some quarters (note: I didn’t say all) for putting forth extra effort. I really felt for Meredith not getting acknowledged. I also have this very strong memory of several organizations where that was NOT the case. My current job is not without challenges, but there are some people who give me strokes, and I try hard to do the same. It feels right.
As for horn-tooting, it makes me feel good when someone I know from my many overlapping circles of friends and colleagues has something wonderful happen to them, whether it’s small or large. I feel uplifted and optimistic to see other’s achievements.
Doh, first comment did manage to post despite what my computer told me. Sorry for the repeat.
One more thing about acknowledgements, I’ve noticed that some folks (nobody online) tend to downplay the thing they did good when complimented, like it wasn’t a big deal. And I’ve certainly been guilty of this myself. So I am definitely going to try to be “damn proud” of what I do in the future and not feel guilty if somebody notices and mentions it.
I think the decision to not acknowledge someone’s good news is born out insecurity. I can’t think of any other reason why someone wouldn’t be happy for someone else. If “A” got recognition for doing ___, it might make me look bad because I didn’t do ___ myself. While I think that’s totally lame, I guess I do understand where it comes from. But the grass is always greener on the other side. Sure, I got the Mover and Shaker thing, but I work on my book and other stuff every night and weekend and I really have no free time. It’s a trade-off.
Don’t ever be embarassed for doing good things. People only feel that way because they worry about the insecurities and jealousies of other people. Be proud of the things you’ve accomplished through hard work and never let people take that good feeling away. You deserve to have it!
There is another reason to be known for expertise and that is to be promoted in an academic setting. When I first joined a faculty I was told that when it was time for tenure that letters would be sent out to people in my area of expertise and that part of my external evaluation would be based on their perception of my impact on my research area.
Today when faculty are standing for tenure the role of the “external letter” is very important at the next level. This is more rigorous in those universities that strive for higher status.
While I certainly don’t think this is the right way to go about things, the fact remains that being known to peers is a component of the promotion and tenure process. In pre-internet days this was a very slow process of submitting articles to refereed jorunals and eventually having a respectable citation rate. Today the ways of becoming known are more diverse. If a blog permits access to a broader readership then this aspect of being known frees up the individual from a rigid single structure for recognition.
I’m not tracking this literature but I have seen papers on the role of internet visibility on promotions in universities.
And just one word about not being recognized. Not one person at my work place noted the book I did on the Oral History of Women of Color–but now years later I had a nice note from a student who had used it for a paper….so the timeline of recognition can be years and years.
I winced when I read the bit about not getting acknowledged by colleagues. Yesterday morning, our director announced at our monthly staff meeting that she’d just been told that a member of our administrative staff was being honored with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence. The room burst into spontaneous cheers and applause, and we made the recipient blush. The meeting closed with the surprise presentation of a framed award and a bunch of chocolate to our Student Worker of the Year, again with more applause and laughter and cheers.
That kind of environment can make all the difference, and I’m sorry that not everyone has it.
You are one of my favorite writers! You and a few of the other prolific bloggers are my key sources of information and grist for thought.
I met you once at a conference (ASIS&T Mass.), and talked to you then (2 YEARS ago about blogging…sigh). I don’t have any choice but that people do tend to remember me from conferences since I’m there w/either an interpretor or colleague typing on a laptop for me!
I too really liked the comment above:
“I’ve seen the same thing here when our Head of Department circulates an email message congratulating someone on an achievement (and I work in an academic department, not a library). What does this say about the organisational culture? Down here (New Zealand) people talk about “tall poppy” syndrone – the tendency to cut down people who stand out from the crowd. Is that what we’re suffering from?
I too really liked the comment above:
“I’ve seen the same thing here when our Head of Department circulates an email message congratulating someone on an achievement (and I work in an academic department, not a library). What does this say about the organisational culture? Down here (New Zealand) people talk about “tall poppy” syndrone – the tendency to cut down people who stand out from the crowd. Is that what we’re suffering from?
(Why is this blog only publishing a portion of my comment?!)
I too really liked Brenda’s Poppyseed comment above:
But, I’ve reposted it too many times already!
This is a sad state of affairs and I think that it does reflect Meredith’s work place experience. I keep going back to the all too familiar “librarian as martyr” idea that has been resurfacing.
There does seem to be a common tendency to think that in order to serve others, you must be willing to sacrifice and be self effacing. The problem is, that you cannot properly serve if your own needs are not met. In addition, you cannot always be self effacing if you need to advocate for others!
I also think that this culture of “martyrdom” has engendered a “fear of failure” in some of us. What do you think?
It all depends I think on the tone and audience of your blog. A lot of blogs evolved out of sort of “notes to myself”, so it’s kind of unreasonable to expect every post to be written as if it was a newspaper article for a general audience. In my blog, I write about things that I am doing, it seems to me it would be a rather odd form of self-abnegation to do otherwise. I often use a search on my blog to answer the question “where is that thing that someone wrote about topic X”, there’s no reason (and in fact a lot of use to me) if that result happens to include my own writings or presentations.
Having negotiated with a number of speakers over time as part of conference planning committees as well as been negotiated with as a speaker/consultant, I would say that Walt’s numbers seem somewhat typical for most librarians (or, Walt – those we confuse as being librarians since we don’t always look for the MLS stamp first-off!) … But, like Walt mentioned as well, almost everyone also has some range and willingness to negotiate, as well as those personal things that might be motivators (e.g., proximity to family who one doesn’t see often otherwise, degree of preparation, any post-presentation follow-up/consultation, useful for promotion/tenure, number of days of travel, how much time away from work, etc.). I guess I see this almost more like a short term salary negotiation – the payment (money or otherwise) for doing xzy.
I want to pick up on two points in particular that Meredith made. First she wrote how she felt: “I just felt really weird about it — sad and embarrassed.” Meredith mentioned that feeling of being embarrassed other times – worried how people would perceive her. She also wrote that even discussions about “…people doing great things can turn into a discussion about self-promotion. But I think it’s really indicative of the general attitudes about self-promotion in our profession”
I think that Meredith is right that there’s a set of unstated “professional” norms at play but there’s also the workplace culture also at play. Its power should not be underestimated.
Some Library workplaces that I have known were not good at fostering a culture of recognition and a celebration of successes. Sometimes the “recognition” role or duty was left to the Library Director who briefly noted accomplishments at the end of monthly meetings or just sent an email to the individual stating that this had been added to their file. When some libraries reorganize and became less hierarchical, many of them did not address the recognition and reward structures and old fashioned or downright archaic systems remain in place. It could be that no one in the library feels particular recognized or valued.
Just consider for a moment, Jenica’s library where everyone cheers and they even do it collectively. Whew! You can tell that there’s a very different norm at work.
When I used to do consulting, I would get a bird’s eye view of dozens of workplaces. There were few workplaces that were gems — anyone would love to work there. The staff celebrated the successes and also supported each other when problems arose.
By the way, just in case someone thinks that I’m placing the lack of recognition in libraries on the shoulder of the Directors, I’m not. We all have a part to play in shaping our workplace culture.