Self-Promotion: Self-Absorbed or Altruistic?


I get it. It can be uncomfortable. Tooting your own horn. Raising your own flag. Building your own throne. Letting the world know about your awesomeness.

We’ve been taught that it’s not nice to brag, that good girls don’t stand out or talk too loud or take up too much space.

But here’s the deal: your genius cannot help anyone unless they know about it.

Self-promotion is really an edge for most of us. It’s hard to overcome decades, perhaps eons, of programming that’s told us to not draw attention to ourselves for fear of making others feel bad or coming off as arrogant.

But if you want to start a movement, get a message out there, and shake things up, people need to know about you. And who best to tell them but you! (Because waiting around for someone else to do it is a sure-fire way to end up resentful and broke.)

I struggle a lot with this myself. That’s why I’m writing about it. (I pretty much just write what I need to hear, and nearly every time it turns out I’m not so special and someone else needed to hear it, too.)

While it’s totally possible to self-promote in an obnoxious, totally self-absorbed way, it’s also totally possible to do it in a way that’s altruistic.

Wanna self-promote as part of your mission to make the world a better place? Good. Me, too.

Here’s what I recommend when it comes to altruistic self-promotion:


Have a friend sit behind a video camera (could be your iPhone – don’t get caught up in technicalities here) and interview you about what you do and why you’re so great. Continue having her ask questions until you feel like you’ve gotten into the flow and have at least a couple of soundbites that you can pull out to use in the future. Go back and watch the video (I know – this can be painful, but it’s worth it) and write down the things that sounded the best. These can become copy on your website, social media posts, and your elevator pitch. (Though I don’t have one of these and probably never will, it’s helpful to have something to say when someone asks you what you do that feels authentic and also casts you in your best light.)

Write out what’s awesome about you and what you do.

Seriously. Just make a list. List out everything you can think of that’s awesome about you, whether it has to do with your amazing work or not. Before you go to a pitch meeting, film a video, write sales copy, or go interview, read the list. Post it by your computer and read it every morning. We all need to be reminded of our awesomeness on a regular basis. You might as well be the one to do it for yourself.

Save the thank you’s. You’ll need them.

I have a label in my email called “Keepers.” When someone writes me to tell me that something I did or shared made a difference in their life, I put it in the Keepers file. I also have a physical Keepers file for snail mail thank you notes I receive. Our team also is regularly archiving testimonials from our Facebook groups and the interwebs at large. Yes, they’re great social proof for marketing, but they also help remind me that what I do matters and that I need to keep telling people about it because it could help them.

You can be humble and proud at the same time.

Humility is charming. But completely hiding your light under a bushel just makes the world darker. twitter-logo  (And Lord knows we don’t need that right now.) It is absolutely possible to be humble and proud of yourself at the same time. This takes finesse, but I know you’ve got it in you. A great way to hold these two things at the same time is to proudly state what you do that’s amazing and then hold yourself back from rambling on and on about it. Instead, turn it over to the other person and ask about them. You have a moment to shine. They have a moment to shine. You see? There’s enough to go around. Your pride doesn’t take away from them. Your humility doesn’t need to take away from you.



Bottom line: keeping your amazingness all to yourself is just darn selfish. twitter-logo Don’t let your fear of what other people will think of you get in the way of sharing your gifts. If you turn the spotlight off yourself and on to the people who need what you have to offer, self-promotion automatically becomes service.


Celebrate yourself in public so you can make a difference in the lives of the people who need what you have most.



In the name of altruistic self-promotion: what’s awesome about you and what you do in the world? How do you help people? Practice shouting it to the rooftops in the comments because I want to hear about your brilliance!


  • Neomi Gniwisch

    Do you realize that your Meems are said in the negative ?
    Hiding your greatness under a bushel makes the world darker

    Why not write ‘ revealing your greatness makes the world brighter !’

    Positivity breeds positivity
    It’s like a candle that can ignite infinite amounts of candles

    • Kate Northrup

      I hear you. Good point. And yet sometimes I think the message gets across better when the message is phrased the way I did. Case by case basis.

      • Terri Maracle

        Not everyone is at a point where they can interpret positive affirmations, it is a goal, but until there is true communication, which is realized by speaking clearly, sometimes formatting your words in the ‘negative’ voice helps with understanding. I believe that sometimes we get too caught up in our words and as a result we loose the meaning. For a young woman, you have an innocent and endearing voice. For that, I thank you.

  • I’m Carol. I’m a massage therapist….therapeutic massage is what I specialize in and I’m good at it. I know I am. Not because people tell me I am, I really believe I am! I feel at my best when I’m giving a massage! But what I’m most interested in is giving you tools to heal yourself. Sure I can massage muscles to the point of you feeling like butter and that’s nice, always…I’m not knocking it…but what I want to do is find tools, and I’m always learning about them, and share them with you, about what you can do in the gap of your time between those awesome massages. And my tool chest is full and overflowing. I’ve lived 59 years so my experience isn’t just in massage! I’ve only been at that 11 years! The thing I’m learning is that all of the answers really are within. I can get a massage every day if I wanted to, but unless I’m taking care of myself, the massages only make me feel good superficially. I’m talking about what’s really inside of you and me…all of us…at our core…is our ability to heal ourselves with our own inner resources. I believe we just need switches to turn on those realizations, just remembering who we really are. So call me and let’s get your remembering turned back on! I will give you a wonderful massage and you can remember what it feels like to go within and be still. It’s at the still points that our greatest healing can take place. It’s that gap between the bars…it’s the space between the words. I can induce that still point and you can heal. And I can teach you how to induce that still point for yourself on a daily basis. That’s where our self-discovery happens, our remembering happens.

  • Hi Kate.

    First of all thank you for this inspirational email! In fact than you for all your inspirational emails!

    Here’s my shout out to myself: I have written a fun children´s book with POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS FOR TODDLERS!
    Being a big fan of Louise Hay (and everyone at Hay House for that matter) and having started with affirmations as an adult, I really wanted to get my 3 children to start this healthy habit from as early on as possible. The book includes 10 positive affirmations in “toddler language” with fun illustrations to help them picture the idea behind them.

    I sent you a copy for you to read with Penelope. I hope you received it and find it useful!

    Lots of love,
    Anna Morató

  • Kate – Love this article for today. Thank you! Totally in the same vein of a musing I posted; guessing something I needed to hear today. :)

    I am really good at writing about tough stuff — I’m not broken and neither is anyone else. We’re just human and beautifully, messily so. :)

  • Kate,

    LOVE this! This was JUST what I needed and i am going to do everything on your list to practice. We are all constantly up against the pattern of playing small.

    I am a master synthesizer of information across many, many topics, and i have a unique ability to pull from multiple fields to see the bigger pictures and not get stuck in the details that hold many thinkers back.

    I just published my 1st book, “Atheist to Enlightened in 90 Days” which is a succinct synthesis of economics, spirituality and nutrition/detox and my life story. I really didn’t want to write the darn book, but my subconscious wouldn’t leave me alone until it was done. I wish i was happy in my former job as an economics professor and mom, but i wasn’t- apparently i was here to do something else. So now, instead of teaching college kids finance and economics, i get to tell people about my very sudden awakening and Source, and the diet (equilibrium diet) that led to the awakening. Basically, I brought the efficiency of economics to diet and nutrition. And because of my unusual experience and diet, i am VERY good at helping people detox VERY fast.

    THANK YOU! Now, i must go practice self-promotion!

    Katie Player

    • Kate Northrup

      Wow!! This is absolutely amazing and definitely needs to be spread far and wide. Congrats!

      • I love this! My story is similar but different. Also a professors who’s life purpose came through as a byproduct of motherhood :-)

        What’s your website – your self-promotion is working :-)

  • Thank you for all of your inspirations and (tweet it) statements, they are sooo relevant.
    I appreciate all that you write about. I feel like I could be your aunt. I have read books from you Mom. And learned sooo much from her book, Ageless Goddess.
    I am becoming more confident in my abilities as a seamstress, because more and more people are referring me. I can do alterations (but more than that, my speciality is almost more like a ‘mcgyver’ of clothing or anything ‘fabric’. From taking a picture and making it for someone. The more people ask or come to me, the more I realize that I have a talent. So, yes, am now a little more positive and bolder about my service.
    Thank you again.

    Rita DiIlio (My Material World) lol

  • Kate I love this topic! Humility along with service been to words that I’ve had to detangle since going from professor of pharmacy to mystical storyteller!

    I’m a self awareness queen and a copy writer for the soul.

    I help women get into integrity with their REAL desires and help them call in the right support and communicate their needs so they are met.

    I’ve disenrolled and delete emails from a lot of bloggers but yours are always on point!

  • Fiona

    Wow, I love this so much and the timing is so perfect for me. This past weekend, I did a demo in a yoga teacher training in order to pass the certification and I, to my surprise, had a best case scenario for my routine with zero slip ups and a super smooth flow. I was so proud of myself! But, as much as my body wanted me to jump up and down and celebrate with my classmates, my mind said, “That would be inappropriate. You should never put your pride in yourself out for everyone to see. They might think you believe you’re above them.” So I did not jump up and down…I made some jokes and pretended to crawl away exhausted to avoid the celebration of me. But everyone WANTED to celebrate with me. I took away some of their joy as well as mine by not displaying my excitement. And when they completed their demos, I got so much happiness out of seeing their thrill of success. When you are surrounded by a healthy crew, they will find energy from your growth as well as their own. It was suuuuch a good lesson. It will definitely take practice to de-program that messaging, but it’s a game-changer for sure. Thanks so much for sharing this wisdom, Kate!!

  • Thanks for this post…feels totally pertinent not just for me but for the bigger picture of the world’s conscious growth at the moment.

    I’m an Intuitive Energy Guide and I work with all animals, humans and their nonhuman companions, helping everyone find new levels of connection, understanding, and healing. Part of my work is really walking my talk and showing the world that combination. Amazing experiences with clients help me to know that I am good at what I do like where a cat who wouldn’t stay in the same room with her man, was lying on the floor with that same man within 24 hours of our session, or where a house that had been on the market for more than a year finally sold with ease. I’ve been working on ways to clearly and comfortably (your video idea above is one I’ll definitely be trying since practice is what makes things finally comfortable!) share what I do in ways that others can really hear and connect with.


  • “Bottom line: keeping your amazingness all to yourself is just darn selfish. Don’t let your fear of what other people will think of you get in the way of sharing your gifts. If you turn the spotlight off yourself and on to the people who need what you have to offer, self-promotion automatically becomes service.”

    Love this. <3

    I wanna just take the easy way out and stop writing now and not share what I think is awesome about myself, but that's not what this post is about! And I'm only gonna get better at sharing my awesomeness through practice, so here it goes!

    I'm awesomely creative. Fo realz. I've got an incredible talent for receiving inspired ideas and transforming them into art, writing, video, and music that connects others to who they really are inside. My work lights people up, reminds them what it is to feel good, and can even give people a sense of amazement and awe. When I speak my truth, it helps others be more accepting of themselves and also feel less alone. And that's all really good stuff!

    Thanks for being a light, Kate! Love you so much! :)

  • Kate

    Thank you for your post. I seem to have the archetype of handmaiden indelibly stamped in my being. I have been a support person for everyone in my life. I am still working along side my partner promoting him and the business he started, but somehow I seem invisible. I know I exist but seem unable to find an expression of me there that fits. I can make any space a home, I intuitively move furniture find flowers and candles and create peaceful safe havens. I ran a very successful business doing just this, but gave way to helping my partner live his dream. Eleven years have passed by and I’ve lost my confidence. Today I will make a video and see if I can find me again. Thank you for setting a task that may uncover what lies within.

  • Dana Schuetter

    Thanks! So timely! I am a meditation guide/intuitive healer and I need to see this :) Thank you for giving my throat chakra permission to voice my gifts!


  • Well i make pretty solid money condesiring my job. But 60 an hour is waaay off ha. I make like a third of that. I’ve heard if you get a private tutoring job sometimes they pay up in that area but its like 1 hour a day.

Leave a Comment

Site Design Studio DBJ
Site Development Alchemy + Aim