♟️ The Status Game: How to overcome feelings of inadequacy

Ft. Reshma Saujani

Reshma Saujani has an incredible CV… Lawyer, politician, civil servant, Founder of Girls Who Code and Moms First.

Yet when she walked onto the TED stage, she started with a story of a monumental failure - the time she lost £1.3m. Why? Because she understands that…

Audience connection comes from vulnerability;

not credibility.

Let me explain…

I see so many presenters waste precious minutes of their keynotes by reeling off their career achievements in an attempt to show that they are the ‘real deal.’

While well-meaning, it has the opposite effect.

We all know this, yet there are times when it can be very tempting to go down this route. Especially when our audience has…

  1. No idea who we are 🧐

  2. More experienced than we do 🎓

  3. The power to make decisions about our future 💰

In other words, whenever there is a perceived Status Gap.

When we find ourselves presenting to intimidatingly impressive people, it can make us feel inadequate. Especially, if we’re desperate to come across as equally impressive to them.

Sharing your achievements is not going to help.

Your audience doesn’t care.

So the next time you feel the urge to tell people how good you are, try doing the opposite and open with a failure story, just like Reshma did in this brilliant 127-second clip…🍿 

Three things to note from this approach:

  1. It works because no one expects a failure story 😲
    They’re expecting a humble brag! So by doing the opposite, you’re immediately differentiating yourself from everyone else. You’re not just making yourself more relatable and trustworthy, you’re making yourself more interesting.

    Top tip: Choose a failure story that’s relevant to the topic of your talk (in Reshma’s case, bravery).

  2. Failure makes us wiser 🦉
    Failure unlocks a far deeper level of insight than success alone. We know this subconsciously, but our ego wants to play The Status Game and will try to stop us from making them public.

    Top tip: Reshma’s story was about running for congress… the fact she even tried increases her status. By weaving an experience or a previous job role/client into the narrative, you are showcasing your authority in a much more subtle way.

    E.g. ‘When I worked at Google…’

  3. Failure stories help you drop the ego 🙃
    Sharing a failure story up front can do for your internal confidence.

    By showing the audience you’re not perfect up front, you no longer need to be the person who has all the answers and you can go into the core content of your talk knowing that who you are is more than enough.

The speakers who walk on stage and drop it all, always end up forging the deepest connections.

So, what failures are you going to share this week?


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P.s. If you’d like more help with this, check out this article on how to tell a failure story.

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