I assumed that pretty much everyone had seen the music video by now — multiple times. Scores of news sites, including CNN, ABC, and the Huffington Post have written it up. There have been tons of positive responses from significant players in the entertainment industry (including T-Pain, who tweeted, “Words cannot even describe how amazing this video is…”). As of writing this article, it has over 170 million YouTube views, and is currently the number one downloaded music video on iTunes. Heck, they even did a “dance cam” of the video at Dodger Stadium and non-Koreans watching the game broke into the dorky-becomes-cool horse dance!

But I kept finding that friends, even people active in social media, hadn’t yet experienced the greatest music video ever (did I mention flash mobs in Australia?). I had thought that just because there was promotion, you know — everywhere — for it, the video was more broadly known than it actually was.

Promoting yourself at work can be similar. No, not celebrities tweeting your awesomeness or dance cams in the office conference room. What I’m talking about is that you may think that you’ve made your contributions at work obvious to those around you. But you may be surprised to find that they’re clueless about your efforts, just as I’m surprised to find that people around me haven’t yet heard about the Gangnam Style music video, which is after the jump….

I dare you to watch it without cracking a smile:

If you’re an ATL comment-reader, you may have seen a comment a couple of weeks ago that just said “Koreans…” with a link to the video. If you’re a smart ATL comment-reader (which is obviously most of you, as evidenced by all of the brilliant discourses several of you seem to be able to crank out for every ATL article, every day), you wouldn’t have clicked on the link because you hate it when your computer crashes and dies a horrible and untimely death. Many of you other readers don’t even realize there are comments on this site or, if you do know about them, you pretend that you don’t (as my husband does). So the video may actually be news to some of you.

Self-promotion in the workplace is a delicate endeavor. There are some who err on one end of the spectrum by bragging about themselves. Or, even worse, stealing others’ ideas and presenting them as their own. There are others who are too “humble” to self-promote, or don’t think it’s necessary. My message today is for the latter group.

A friend of mine shared that he didn’t see how his manager wouldn’t realize that he was working a lot of extra hours. Every week, my friend shared his “to do” list, which always had at least four pages of items, with his manager. However, he never bothered to expressly tell his manager that those four pages were causing him to work a lot of nights and weekends. He just assumed that telepathy is a thing that exists in species other than Vulcans and Betazoids. Silly boy.

Another friend asked why it’s necessary to promote herself when her manager already knows about everything she’s working on. Surely her manager will spread the word about her when it’s the appropriate time and place to do so. There are so many things wrong about this approach, it’s hard to know where to start. For one, managers aren’t perfect. Some of them are actually pretty bad — even the ones that seem like nice people. Even if she is a decent manager, your boss is more likely to be concerned about her own work getting done and being recognized herself. She probably wants you to do well but, frankly, figuring out how to promote you isn’t at the very top of her list.

The point of this article is please don’t assume. No one knows better than you do about what’s going on in your work life and what your efforts at work are. Everyone else is focused on what’s happening their own little world (just like you are in your mini-dom) and none of them care enough about you to keep track of every little thing you do. That doesn’t mean they’re not nice people. They’re just not, you know, your mom.

Sometimes this situation works in your favor because once in a while you’ll screw up and be all down on yourself about it, but most people around you will be fairly clueless (unless it’s a major debacle). If they even realize something’s wrong, they’ll usually just want to figure out how to fix the situation and move on with their work lives instead of pondering about who caused the mess.

So don’t assume that people are aware of all of your good work. Instead, seek out positive ways to promote yourself by looking around for advice like here and here. Note that, whether or not you engage in self-promotion, others around you are. Ensure that your paltry accomplishments are considered just as fairly as theirs.

For those of you readers who have no problem telling anyone who can’t find the nearest exit quickly enough about what a great lawyer you are and how you incredibly came up with the greatest idea ever for the company several times today, this article is not for you. The video, however, is for everyone. Gangnam style!


Susan Moon is an in-house attorney at a travel and hospitality company. Her opinions are her own and not those of her company. Also, the experiences Susan shares may include others’ experiences (many in-house friends insist on offering ideas for the blog). You can reach her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SusanMoon.


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