The Painful Process of Naming Yourself


By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

I hear it repeatedly, how painful and intellectually rigorous my writing processes are. Collaborating with clients on their career stories, I hear that my career-intel gathering phase is both “demanding” and “mind-bending.”

However, I have learned, over the years, that if such feedback is absent, then I probably am not doing my job well. So, while not wanting to cause undue pain, I also know that, “no pain, no gain,” and I want the end result, the return on investment to be both powerful and career lifting. Of course, my clients realize the same and survive — quite frankly, they thrive! Most exceed expectations during the process, and as a result, the writing is propelled to greater heights than I often imagined it would be.

Most recently, I was honored when a renowned writer, thought leader and top social media influencer (e.g., listed among Inc. Magazine’s “12 People to Follow on Twitter” and Business Insider’s “54 Smart Thinkers to Follow”) hired me to write her biography. Whitney Johnson, author of Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream, and former institutional investor-ranked Wall Street analyst reached out to me after we met on Twitter.

A long-time Whitney fan, I had blogged about her writing in 2012, inspired to weave her personal disruption ideas into my post on resume writing,  Disrupting Your Resume.  Perhaps that is when I first appeared on her radar. 

After we launched our work together, Ms. Johnson blogged about our initial writing collaboration, HERE, describing the process of being a “gold digger” where she said she had to do much of the digging herself.

After the project she hired me for was complete, she blogged again HERE, asserting, “Naming myself (updating my bio) was painful.” She later expressed she couldn’t read what I had written (initially) – that she was kind of embarrassed (her husband’s words), and that the bio was, “Like a beautiful robe or cloak that is a bit too fine.”

I loved reading her feedback. It echoed her genuine style which I had gotten a peek into through a couple of phone and several email exchanges throughout our collaboration.

The finalized (official!) biography is published, HERE.

The project was intriguing, uplifting and challenging; in short, it was a joy. I wanted to paint the most vivid, genuine and moving picture possible, and ensure Whitney Johnson felt the same. To borrow a baseball analogy, I wanted to drive it home. I wanted to exceed my client’s expectations. 

Throughout my long, 16-year career at the helm of CareerTrend, I have been blessed with a plethora of interesting, smart, successful and I daresay, even colorful clients. All have a rich tapestry of stories that require fine, strategic word stitching to weave them together. My goal is to tell a story that none of them would tell for themselves.

We are often too close to ourselves, too humble even, to showcase our true value.

Have you been holding back in creating (or having someone articulate) a robust story of you? Have you been avoiding the painful process of naming yourself? What’s holding you back? The gain — more than likely — will be worth the pain!

One Response to “The Painful Process of Naming Yourself”

  1. […] This means having a contemporary, focused and interesting resume story, cover letter, biography and LinkedIn profile already on hand versus waiting until someone requests them. By then, it’s […]

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