The pull of the whisper

Challenge my mind.

Intrigue me.

Pique my curiosity.

Move me.

Make me laugh.

Please just don’t try to sell or subscribe or impress me before you’ve done any of those things!

I’ve been doing lots of research as I write my next book which means I’m visiting lots of new web sites and blogs. On some (too many!) I was bombarded with popups within seconds of opening the page — Enroll! Subscribe! Buy! Don’t miss!

It was like being in the presence of a carnival barker trying to rack up the numbers. Consultant Steve Tobak calls this behavior “me2me.”

It is a noisy world out there, and we do have to find ways to make our voices heard. Yet, as author Lindsay Buroker writes, “As with most things, there are good ways to go about it [self-promotion] and bad ways; or, as I’m calling them, shameless and shameful ways.” There’s a big difference between tooting your horn and using a 300-member marching band to do it.

Loud isn’t the answer. The pull of the whisper is.

Give me a reason to engage. Being a blind consumer is shameful – why sign-up to receive dozens of blogs only to hit the delete button without reading them? If a site’s content is informative or inspiring, I’ll gladly visit, subscribe, or share. But there’s no way for me to know if your message teaches, tests, provokes or exhilarates me without having first had the opportunity to experience it. Let me savor the flavor before throwing the sales pitch (or telling me how great you are) my way.

Go beyond self-interest. Character-based leaders believe you can be a leader without the leader: being someone who focuses more on “we” and less on “me.” Build a relationship, make a connection, challenge the mind and inspire the heart. Life is a perpetual teeter-totter ride between selfish and selfless acts. Don’t get unbalanced.

Stop trying so hard. There’s something incredibly mesmerizing about someone who manages to have both confidence and humility. Conversely, someone full of hubris and arrogance is off-putting. One pulls you toward them, the other pushes you away. I’m not interested in the fact (???) that you earned $95,000 last month. I am interested in how your experiences made you a better person or how your ideas made a positive difference for others. Grace and authenticity are irresistible magnets.

Because the world is raucous, people believe they must be loud and pushy to be heard. For me, it’s the pull of the whisper. We all just have to remember to listen for it.

Image credit: olamidespeaks


“If you listen quietly enough life will whisper its secrets to you” ~Rasheed Ogunlaru

“Sometimes the world seems like a big hole. You spend all your life shouting down it and all you hear are echoes of some idiot yelling nonsense down a hole.” ~Adam Duritz

 ”Goodness speaks in a whisper, evil shouts.” ~Tibetan Proverb

“Arrogance and rudeness are training wheels on the bicycle of life — for weak people who cannot keep their balance without them.” ~Laura Teresa Marquez

“Let not thy will roar, when thy power can but whisper.” ~Thomas Fuller









4 Responses to The pull of the whisper

  1. Jane, shhh, I think you are right.
    Occasionally I find myself in Pop-Up Alley because of the lure of great content, only to be seriously frustrated and annoyed. Notorious and prestige residents of Pop-Up Alley include HBR, Inc. and Forbes. I accidentally landed at Inc yesterday to be bombarded not only with Pop-ups (2 of them), but one which danced around my screen - pretty sure I’ve already subscribed too! Given their status I’m sure they must know what they are doing? Need to review that subscription.
    Personally I try to take a pretty laid back approach and have been giving without pestering and it is paying off. Huge investment yes, but with the right quality and focus the returns flow for those with the faith to keep at it.
    Best Wishes

    • Colin — I like the low key approach you take…certainly appeals to me! The carnival barker popup approach has been adopted by some pretty big hitters, for sure. But I’ve rarely been one to follow the crowd, happy to dance with elephant instead. BIG thanks for sharing!

  2. Jane, I have been following you for several months and I so agree. I try to share not push yet engagement is not where I want it to be;( I plan on reading more to gain insight into your techniques to engage readers. Thanks for sharing and getting me to think purposefully for future posts.


    • Beth - delighted by your candor! It’s a delicate balance between keeping one’s voice out there and yet not being annoying. Sometimes there’s tradeoffs. Building a big list with spammy (just my opinion!!) approaches isn’t worth it to me. We’ll go slow, go classy, go quality! Good luck in building your engagement levels…you’ll get there!

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