Don’t Say This

imageWhen I was growing up, my father was pretty clear when explaining what you should and shouldn’t say about yourself. For instance, you didn’t say you were a hard worker, you worked hard. You didn’t say you were honest, you were honest and you didn’t say you were a good friend; you just tried to be a good friend. He would remind me that: “those are things you want others to say about you.” As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been purging a few dead, dying and infected branches in my social media network. I am being careful not to delete people I might still want to follow, so I’ve been checking profiles and recent tweets. I’ve noticed something about the people I am deleting – they didn’t know my father.

Below is a list of words and expressions I have found in the profiles of some of the people I have selected to stop following on Twitter. Some of these words are acceptable some times, but they always seem to cause an alarm bell to go off when I read them. Here’s my list of words my father might have told you to avoid:

Author – Really? I follow some authors, but if you pen a blog, a couple of blogs or write a company newsletter, I don’t consider you to be an author. If you are currently working with an editor, a publisher or if you have self-published something that wasn’t on WordPress, Blogger, Tmblr or other such platforms, maybe you’re an author. If the word author is preceded by “published” or “best-selling” or if you regularly have articles in magazines, newspapers or other press, then you’re an author. The act of writing doesn’t make you an author any more than the act of cooking dinner makes you a chef.

Thought leader – Nope, sorry, this is not something you can say about yourself, and don’t even think about dropping the word “thought” and trying that again. You can use the word “leader” in conjunction with a Scout Troop, a Platoon, a group of firemen, or in any other context in which you have been appointed to lead, but you cannot apply this word to yourself.

Creative – Well, you weren’t very creative in your use of 140 characters. Tell me what you do, point me to your work and let me decide if you’re creative. You can say “I enjoy finding creative solutions” or “I am part of a creative process…” but as for being creative I don’t think that’s for you to decide.

Innovator – What’s the last thing you introduced to the world? Why haven’t I heard about you before you started following me and why can’t I find any of your innovations when I search on your name?

Entrepreneur – OK, this one is tricky but in general, I don’t think owning your own business, being self-employed or being unemployed qualifies you to be called an entrepreneur.

Actualizer –This is just stupid.

Evangelist – I’m not going to be too hard on the people who refer to themselves as a (insert technology here) evangelist, as I know it has become an actual title in some companies. I’m guessing that the people who started using this word for this purpose have never been to a real revival with a real evangelist. I have and I would never waste this word or the level of passion it implies on a Microsoft product, and I would never elevate any technology or product to the level of the subject of true evangelism.

Expert – This word always gives me pause. Maybe you are an expert, maybe it’s important for your customers to know that, but as soon as I see the word, those bells start ringing. Do you really need to tell me that? You have 140 characters to use; I think you could pick something else that you want me to know about you?

Critical Thinker – Yeah, see if you were a critical thinker, I think you would have thought about how pompous this would sound in your profile and you might have just said that you try to be serious and thoughtful.

Third Person – Profiles written in the third person are just creepy – “Dan has been writing this blog since 2011” – see, creepy.

Inspiring – The sunrise is inspiring, you can’t use this word without prefacing it with “trying to be”, “hope to be”, or “I wish I was”. You might be inspiring, but you shouldn’t be the one to tell me.

Amazing – Mostly I’ve been focusing on words I don’t think people should use. This is one that companies shouldn’t use either. If your products are amazing, point me to a place where your customers are saying that.

That’s my list for now, your mileage may vary.

9 thoughts on “Don’t Say This

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  1. Brilliant is one you missed. Again it is something others may say but you can’t about yourself. I make one exception re: evangelist. Guy Kawasaki was the first one in technology and did wonders for the Macintosh. Apart from him I would agree 100%.


  2. When was that (Kawasaki)? I noticed the uptick on using evangelist with SharePoint several years ago. Brilliant and / or intelligent would have made the list in a heartbeat if I had seen any. Thanks for the addition.


  3. Guy was an integral part of Steve Jobs Macintosh campaign. It was Guy who persuaded the software developers of the time to write for such a strange computer. Get a copy of “The Macintosh Way”. You aren’t getting my copy :-)


    1. I’m posting Roland’s tweet here so we can eventually add it to the definitive list “If you think you are a game changer, please say how you change the game! #tiredof people using the “game changer” expression :-)”

      Thanks Roland


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