Not my name, no company name, no logo, no address – nothing.
This was back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Back then, I believed if I was standing in front of a magician, demonstrating a product with my own name on it, there would be no way for them to give me an honest reaction. Obviously, it’s hard to deliver real criticism to a creator when you’re looking them straight in the eyes. So I thought the best way to get real feedback was to stay anonymous.
I learned a lot from that approach. Sometimes, more than I bargained for.
I discovered what people really thought of my ideas. It was a great way to learn what people liked and disliked, while working directly in the trenches.
I also learned it made the products easy targets for getting lifted. I’d show up at a convention one year with a new item – only to see it sitting on other dealers tables the next. This was way before I was making products available wholesale. Yet, there they were – same tricks, same plastic bags, with horribly photocopied instructions.
But over the years I’ve come to learn the most important lesson from this approach. It was the other reason I didn’t include my name on those early products.
Putting your work out there means that you can be the recipient of praise and accolades.
Keeping it anonymous means you can deflect the disapproval and rejection.
As time went on, I changed my approach but I’ve always been shy about self-promotion. I’ve tried to get better at it but to this day it often feels painfully uncomfortable. Someone once said, “If you’re not branding yourself, you can be sure that others are doing it for you.” That’s a great line. It’s too bad no one seems to remember who said it first.
We live in a noisy and crowded world. Often the only voice available to sing your praises will be your own. Don’t be afraid to.