Why we all need to f*ck being humble

Stefanie Sword-Williams, Founder of F*ck Being Humble, is changing the way the world views self-promotion


By Ally Faughnan


For Mental Health Awareness Week, we are opening up conversations around burnout, loneliness, self-love, and more in our burn baby burnout series. Check out Mind for more advice and support about mental health.


‘Self-promotion’ has become a bit of a dirty word, but why? Stefanie Sword-Williams, Founder of F*ck Being Humble, is here to show you why self-promoting is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s integral to success and she says “the more we self-promote the more confident we get in our skills, our craft, and our abilities.”


Stefanie herself is a perfect example of how being your own hype-(wo)man can help you achieve amazing things, becoming a public speaker, an event host, a community builder, a radio host, and a business owner in the space of two years. And she puts this all down to self-promotion! I spoke with the F*ck Being Humble Founder on how to get over the fear of self-promotion, how to manage burnout, and how we can also help to promote and support those around us during this time.



When it comes to self-promotion, why do you think it is so important to overcome the fear that surrounds it?


I know it might sound ridiculous to say it, but I genuinely do think it can have a life-changing impact. The more we self-promote the more confident we get in our skills, our craft, and our abilities. With that means we open more doors, we connect with more people, we say yes to way more things, and a lot of the time, we end up doing what actually makes us happy.


From my own personal experience since starting F*ck Being Humble, I've become an author, a public speaker, an event host, a community builder, a radio host, and a business owner. I never dreamed of doing all of these things in my life, let alone in two years! But all of this is a result of self-promotion. You have to remember that no one is going to promote you better than yourself. You are your own best hype-man, so it's up to you to get noticed.


”One of the best ways to fight off imposter syndrome is by thinking, how might sharing my work help someone else?” – Stefanie Sword-Williams

There can also often be anxiety around the idea of self-promotion, do you have any tips for stopping worry creep in?


I think our anxiety is often driven by the fear of the unknown. Will people like my work? What will my boss think? Do I even have the right to share this? And very often these questions are answered by our own insecurities rather than reality, which consequently means we hold ourselves back.


I read a great book last summer called Do Improvise by Robert Poyton and in it, he highlights that every interaction and conversation we have with people is improvised, we don't know what's coming next but you're always able to respond with something. And it really stuck with me as a reminder that we can and will never be able to control how people respond to what we do, but that shouldn't be a reason why we don't share. One of the best ways to fight off imposter syndrome is by thinking, how might sharing my work help someone else? When you refocus your energy on the positive impact you can have on another person's success, it makes it a lot easier to talk about your own.



Sometimes, especially at the beginning, it can feel like you’re shouting at a brick wall. How do you manage promoting your brand/project/idea, while making sure you don’t burnout?


The amazing thing about self-promotion is you can dial it up or down as much as you want to suit your schedule, your goals, and the reputation you're trying to carve out for yourself. I set up F*ck Being Humble as a side hustle alongside a full-time job and at the beginning, I used to say I would post on social media 4 times a week and write a blog every month. I actually don't think I ever did. As soon as you realise that you control how much pressure you put yourself, the easier it gets to take the pressure off.


A really simple thing to do is to plan your schedule around when you think you're going to be most productive and when you'll have the least energy. It sounds really obvious but if you've worked a 12 hour day, the last thing you'll want to do is apply for a job, so instead, just spend 10 minutes following cool people on social media that you want to connect with whilst you're binging on Netflix. And visa versa, if right now during this pandemic you've got shit loads of time on your hands, how can you blitz through producing content or actually action the things you said you wanted to do a year ago? It's a balancing act but I do think it's really important to let yourself have off days and be totally unproductive, sometimes it's when I come with my best ideas.


”I think the best thing we can do right now is to be empathetic to different situations.” – Stefanie Sword-Williams

Right now it feels more important than ever to not only promote ourselves but also to support others. What do you think we can do to help to uplift others?


I think the best thing we can do right now is to be empathetic to different situations. The past six weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotions for everyone and for a lot of people they are still uncertain about what the future might hold for them and their industry. As much as you might want to provide constant solutions to boost spirits, I actually think it's about listening to what people are struggling with and being there to support them how and when they need it.


It could be small things like sharing a webinar they're hosting or introducing them to a contact, or it could be bigger things like helping them map out how they could make some additional money over the next few months. Whatever it is, understand that there are no set timelines or examples of how to manage this. It's important to take each day as it comes and know everyone is doing their best job.


Keep up with all the amazing things F*ck Being Humble are doing on Instagram and check out Stefanie’s book to learn about all things self-promotion!