Felt cute, might delete later
I made funny drawings of the entire Google I/O 23 Keynote
Personal story time:
Before becoming a Product Manager, synthesizing what happened in technology and management conferences was a very large part of my professional persona.
It paid well and played to my strengths (I'm curious, clever and creative. Also modest).
One of the reasons (not the only one) that I left that and went into Product Management was that I was bothered that so many people only thought of me as a “cute drawings person”.
They could see the creative. But I wanted them to see the clever.
Now that I'm out of formal Product Management and dealing non-stop with matters of how to present myself, it is obvious that my visual work has immense pull. People talk about it, ask me about etc.
The fact that I was always a little uncomfortable with being just a guy that is quick thinking with a marker has always stopped me from being forward with my work. I rarely promote it and take a long time to post stuff I've made.
Returning to a familiar place
Last Wednesday I joined the online streaming of Google I/O. That's Google's way of announcing new launches and this year was very heavy on A.I. stuff (as expected).
I watched the entire thing, and while it was going on, used my ipad to draw it out. I needed a little extra time at the end but it is done. The whole thing fit in 14 panels, and covered topics like Google Cloud, Bard, what models are coming, how everything ties in with everything else, the pixel phone stuff, etc.
I'll share the entire thing, covering the whole keynote if my LinkedIn post reaches 500 likes or 20 reshares.
If you're still with me, let me tell you about this whole "make my post go viral” tactic and why I'm finally open to try to be more obvious in my own self-promotion.
Prepare to read some absolute bangers.
LinkedIn, Prestige Traps, Faustian Deals
Companies can be many things and one of them is a buffer between the worker and Reality.
All companies are. Some are thin buffers that crumble quickly (local bakery that goes bankrupt on week 3 of Covid lockdowns) and others are comfy uteruses where all is at ideal temperature, no matter the weather outside.
This is extremely obvious with very large and established companies (think top5 Banks in Brazil, for instance) or public administration.
They act as a buffer, because they are sturdy and large enough to generate and support their own internal eco-systems, safe from the pesky outside. Things can be hectic beyond their frontiers, but within the company you'll see people doing their job the same way for years on end.
Workers at companies with thick buffers can afford to specialize in learning survival skills that matter only while you work at that job, like very specific office culture, difficult to transfer to other jobs. This is why getting fired as an older person is so scary: you realize that all those years of experience mean nothing for other firms.
Notice this: A buffer is the space between two layers. A wall is a layer. When you think about a buffer, you imagine something that delays penetration. But does not stop it.
Companies act as buffers and not walls, because walls are binary. Either the wall is standing up and blocking the outside world to come pouring in, or it isn't. For the purposes of "reality-shielding effects", walls are on or off.
Buffers are not binary. A buffer can be on and delaying the infiltration from the Real World but still allow it to get in. Only slowing it down. A thick buffer allows for a company to spend years without much adaptation. A thin buffer demands agility to react to a changing environment.
Solo entrepreneurs have buffers the size of their runways. If you have a lot more money than what you spend, you have a bit of a buffer. Otherwise, you're riding a motorcycle while butt naked. Try not to fall.
Securing a position at a well buffered company is almost always difficult. These companies are rare and often highly desirable. Also, they might have built their buffer by hiring the best people, so they can be very picky. Once you're in, you are protected and have a banner to rally around. This is a bit of what people talk about when they talk about tech feudalism, because for the last 20 years (and seemingly for the next 100) tech companies have been the most obvious examples of secure companies.
(as an aside, tech companies effectively create Reality, when they launch world changing products. They have the advantage of writing the future and can prepare better)
So yes, you got it, people outside companies don't have buffers and can't afford to fuck around. No matter the weather, people be needing cheddar.
Why is it so hard for newly-minted solopreneurs, consultants, in-between-jobbers to get audacious with their self-promotion? Why does it feel icky? To me, it very often feels uncomfortable.
I'd bet that the reason we avoid self-promotion and run away from being a little bit more obvious with our own sales and stuff is because we are carrying behaviors that make sense inside the protection of a company. Don't stand out. Consider how others will see you, etc.
When you buy into the idea that belonging to a certain group brings you status and prestige, it can be very difficult to leave it. And harder still to stop thinking in that way, even when you are not playing that game anymore.
An oversized consideration for how other people see you (people that are similar to you in their degree of protection from the outside world) makes sense if you value the prestige of “being part of”.
This makes sense if your luck depends heavily on a small number of people you’ll interact a lot of times. But the opposite is true for entrepreneurs: a lot of people, that you'll deal with on fewer occasions. You cannot just hope they “get the true you”
There's this expression I love to throw around of “game recognize game”. I'm a sucker for the idea that curious, clever and creative people will recognize their kin in a crowd. And from that mutual recognition, you can secure paid work.
I've been questioning this idea a lot in recent times.
Because I'm not playing in any team. Because my buffer is the size of my savings and what interesting projects I land, I cannot pay too much attention to how crass can my self promotion seem to those that are enjoying a few more degrees of protection. I'm not judging them, that's not it. But we are playing different games.
We know ourselves via the others. They old up a mirror that we use to learn about who we are. In our minds alone, we can afford to have platonic ideals of what we are and what we do. When the mirror comes up, we see all the little ways we are a work in progress.
When we refuse to self-promote, for fear that people playing by different rules will see that we are not as cool and aloof as we hoped, we are being so so dumb. They already know we are not that cool and aloof. They are holding the mirror.
Embrace the devil and accept that others will see you as imperfect
Gee, this was a bit ranty.
It's just that the topic has been on my mind a lot. Sorry folks
Just don't forget to visit linkedin and reshare my post, deal?
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