TED Conversations

Lee Wilkinson


This conversation is closed.

Why do we sell ourselves so badly?

I have just finished being part of a team of interviewers for a major corporation and the main thing I noticed was that people in general do a poor job of selling themselves even when give the opportunity and encouragement to do so. It seems like a built in system that stops us from being our own best promoter and we default to putting on the brakes. Why is this? Are we hard wired to default to self destruction instead of self promotion?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jan 25 2012: I had a unique lesson on this. When I was 38 I decided to go back to education and study to become an actor. In the process one of my teachers who I admired and trusted gave the class a piece of wisdom, he said "In this business you need to know who you are." Now while I consider that I am like most people and I do some discovering everyday I did take that on board. I became very comfortable with who I am because I had to in order to intelligently audition for roles which fell into my personality and attributes. For instance I am 5' 6", no good auditioning for the tall dark handsome leading man role, but I got a lot of work over the years auditioning for roles which would allow me to utilize my body type. I do wonder that many people who interview do so out of their realm of ability or character. Just because one owns a record collection it does make us a sound engineer. The point of all of this is that maybe the first step is to marry up our desires with our talents and then apply for the job which highlights both strengths. I think people are always more confident when they are comfortable.
    • thumb
      Jan 26 2012: Hi Lee,
      I agree with everything you have written. I had a similar lesson as a professional actor for several years. I agree that to audition or apply for any job, it's very important to know ourselves, just as it's helpful to know our "self" in all aspects of our lives. It's important to do the homework...know what our skills and talents are, and if we "fit" into the role or job we are applying for. Sometimes, we can be too critical of ourselves and miss opportunities.

      I started acting, singing, dancing in community musical theater as a hobby when I was 35. I auditioned for roles that were in my age and ability range...in my perception. One time, I auditioned for the older, character actor role, which I believed I "ft", was turned down for that role, and was offered the role of the young, energetic leading lady. I turned it down because I felt I was 'too old" to play that role. As the hobby evolved into a profession, I realized that I was often cast in roles that were younger than my actual age. I realized that it was time to re-evaluate my perception of my "self". I also realized that often, directors don't know exactly what they are looking for until they see it, and I think that may be true in many different job opportunities? I think confidence in ourselves and the ability to convey that confidence to the interviewer is the most important part of the "scene".

      I remember one funny audition...with a summer stock company I had worked with before, so there was a lttle advantage on my part. I was already cast in another of their summer productions, and I decided to audition for Chorus Line as well. I was in my late 30s, and by that time, I realized I looked younger on stage. During the audition, the director asked...can you dance? I said, pompously, "I can do anything I want!!! He said "You ARE Sheila, and I got the role. Sheila, the character, was supposed to be in her late 20s, pompous and arrogant:>)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.