The False Modesty Olympics: When Being ‘Humbled’ Turns into a Competitive Spectacle

Leigh McKiernon
13 min readMay 24


Ladies and gentlemen, brace yourselves for a spectacle unlike any other — the inaugural False Modesty Olympics. In this unique arena, ‘being humbled’ isn’t a mere feeling, it’s a fiercely competitive sport — a relentless dive to the depths of humility, only to rise, like a phoenix, to the pinnacle of professional narcissism.

This grandiose spectacle unfolds on the sprawling, digital stage of LinkedIn, a global hub for professional networking, also known as the Black Hole of Modesty. Picture thousands of professionals, strutting, preening, and competing for the most prestigious titles in this world where humility isn’t just scarce, it’s near-extinct.

As we set off on this remarkable journey through the LinkedIn landscape, we’ll encounter competitors from every nook and cranny of the globe. Representing Southeast Asia, we have Lek ‘LinkedLegend’ Limcharoen from Thailand, famed for his uncanny ability to turn every professional milestone into a humblebrag of epic proportions. From the Philippines, we have Maria ‘Modesty Maven’ Mendoza, whose creative self-praise masquerading as humility has earned her legions of followers.

Each contestant is locked in a relentless struggle to outshine their peers in the subtle craft of corporate doublespeak. Will they emerge ‘honored,’ ‘pleased,’ or ‘thrilled’? Only the closing ceremony of this grand contest will reveal the victors.

So, hold onto your office chairs. It’s time to dive headfirst into the murky waters of self-promotion and unchecked ego. Let the games of the False Modesty Olympics commence!

The Grand Opening Ceremony: The Launchpad of Narcissistic Glory

Welcome to the star-spangled opening ceremony of the False Modesty Olympics, held in the virtual colosseum of LinkedIn. From the comfort of your screens, witness a diverse line-up of countries present their finest humblebraggers, their digital costumes flashing with sequins of self-acclaim.

First, we have the vivacious Singaporean delegate, Lee “Lionheart” Wei, a tech entrepreneur whose digital costume sparkles with many ‘Pleased-to-Announce’ badges. Each badge signifies a startup he’s co-founded, modest in scale but grand in his proclamation.

Next, we have the enigmatic Thai representative, Lek ‘Elephant Spirit’ Chai, a culinary entrepreneur with a string of ‘hole-in-the-wall’ eateries. Her vibrant ‘Honored-to-Share’ garb bears witness to each gastronomic achievement she’s ‘humbly’ unfolded in her journey.

Following them is the Philippine team’s poster boy, Carlos ‘Pearl of the Orient’ Delgado, an eco-warrior claiming to have reinvented the recycling industry. His suit, a dazzling ensemble of ‘Humbled-to-Receive’ accolades, contrasts his lofty claims with a dash of humility.

From the land of the white elephants, Myanmar’s prodigy, Myat ‘Golden Pagoda’ Min, steps forth. Each ‘Thrilled-to-Disclose’ jewel adorning her attire represents her roles in multiple NGOs, their brilliance capturing the audience’s gaze, just as her updates command their LinkedIn feeds.

Lastly, hailing from the highlands of Vietnam, we have Phuong ‘Lotus’ Nguyen, a renowned architect. Her ‘Delighted-to-Report’ ao dai is filled with complex patterns signifying her sustainable designs, each detailed to capture her peers’ admiration.

As each delegate struts down the digital catwalk, their costumes speak volumes of their self-proclaimed professional milestones, each more inflated than the last. The crowd erupts in a flurry of emoji applause, their excitement peaking with every new humblebrag. It’s a sight to behold, a testament to the power of professional narcissism wrapped in humble fabric.

As we bid farewell to the opening ceremony, we await the fascinating spectacle of the False Modesty Olympics. Be prepared to be astounded, amused, and, dare I say it, a little bit inspired. The Olympics of False Modesty has begun, and the competition is as fierce as it is pretentious!

The Honored-to-Announce Relay: A Sprint Towards the Pinnacle of Humblebrag

On your marks, get set, humblebrag! Welcome to the first event of the False Modesty Olympics — the ‘Honored-to-Announce Relay.’ Teams from across Southeast Asia will sprint, not just in a race of speed, but in a dash of amplified achievements, each vying to outshine the others in the theatre of professional exaggeration.

Leading the race for Team Singapore, Lee Wei charges forward with a booming, “Pleased to announce my successful patent of a slightly faster loading GIF!” The audience erupts with applause emojis, setting the pace for this humblebrag relay.

Next up, Thai representative Lek Chai takes the baton, accelerating with her proclamation, “Delighted to share that I’ve successfully created a new street food fusion — Kimchi Pad Thai!” Her announcement sends a ripple of excitement through the virtual crowd.

Taking the relay forward, Carlos Delgado from Team Philippines declares, “Humbled to receive the Plastic Spork Innovator of the Year award,” his proud announcement adding to the mounting enthusiasm in the digital stadium.

The baton swiftly transfers to Myat Min from Team Myanmar, who reveals, “Thrilled to disclose my groundbreaking achievement of a perfect attendance record for three consecutive webinars!” This news, although mundane, is presented with such gusto that it electrifies the crowd.

Finally, the Vietnamese delegate, Phuong Nguyen, brings it home with a victorious, “Delighted to report my design has been selected as the official logo for the Hanoi Pigeon Watchers Association!” Her triumphant announcement sends a wave of clapping emojis echoing through the crowd.

The true victors here aren’t necessarily those who reach the finish line first, but those who masterfully elevate the mundane into grandeur, stirring a sense of awe from their spellbound spectators.

As the echoes of their announcements fade, the crowd is left buzzing, their anticipation heightened for the upcoming events. This relay has set the tone for what promises to be an exciting display of faux humility and self-promotion. So stay tuned, for the False Modesty Olympics has just begun!

The Pleased-to-Present Pole Vault: Leaping Towards the Summit of Pretentiousness

The energy in the virtual arena is electric as we prepare for our next event — the ‘Pleased-to-Present Pole Vault.’ In this riveting spectacle, competitors from Southeast Asia will not just vault over a physical bar, but leap towards the pinnacle of inflated self-importance, turning modesty into an acrobatic performance.

First up, we have Trisno ‘Top Tier’ Tirtayasa from Team Indonesia, known for his high vaulting declarations. He takes a moment, gathers his composure, and with a run-up that exudes confidence, he launches into the air, announcing, “Pleased to present my award for ‘Best Stapler in Jakarta!’” The audience sends a wave of clapping emojis, appreciating his leap into exaggeration.

Next, we have Malaysia’s Aishah ‘Astro’ Ahmad, a star in the world of self-aggrandizement. She approaches the metaphorical bar, takes off, and shoots into the stratosphere of self-promotion, shouting, “Delighted to unveil my achievement as the champion in the office ping-pong tournament!” Aishah’s virtual acrobatics elicit a flurry of emojis from the excited crowd.

From the beautiful land of Laos, we witness Souk ‘Sky Jumper’ Sisavath’s attempt. Known for turning the mundane into extraordinary leaps of grandeur, Souk charges towards the bar and with a powerful jump, he propels himself into the air, announcing, “Excited to present my unrivaled skill in assembling Ikea furniture!”

Finally, we have Cambodian representative, Chenda ‘Cloud Climber’ Chea. Famous for her meteoric rise in self-praise, she readies herself, races towards the bar, and ascends gracefully, while declaring, “Joyous to showcase my impeccable record of always being first in line at the office buffet!”

The crowd’s excitement mounts with each vault, their reactions a testament to the competitors’ ability to inflate simple tasks into significant achievements. The title here won’t be awarded to the highest jumper, but to the one who best fuses their leap with the perfect balance of false humility and exaggerated self-praise.

So, strap in, as we plunge into this thrilling contest of humility and vanity, meticulously choreographed in the grand arena of professional self-promotion. Get ready to be ‘pleased’ with the ‘Pleased-to-Present Pole Vault’!

The Happy-to-Share Shot Put: Hurling Modesty into the Stratosphere

We’re back at the False Modesty Olympics for the ‘Happy-to-Share Shot Put.’ Here, our Southeast Asian competitors magnify their minor accomplishments, wrapping them in hyperbolic language before launching them into the digital ether of LinkedIn, reaching far beyond the bounds of modesty.

Starting us off is Minh ‘Modesty Master’ Nguyen from Team Vietnam. Known for his ability to spin simple tasks into remarkable exploits, Thanh steps up with his recently finished online course, takes aim, and with an assertive ‘happy to share,’ he hurls it into the virtual stratosphere, creating a ripple of emojis.

Next up is Achara ‘Aerodynamic’ Anant from Thailand. A seasoned player in the game of professional hyperbole, Achara steps forward, her completion of a minor office project in hand. With a grandeur that defies the mundanity of her achievement, she launches her shot into the vast digital expanse, outdistancing the previous attempt.

From the Philippines, we have Benigno ‘Blastoff’ Bonifacio. Famous for transforming humble deeds into heroic narratives, he takes his place, holding his achievement — an invitation to join a semi-prestigious local business club. With a resounding ‘delighted to share,’ he catapults his accomplishment towards the farthest reaches of LinkedIn, leaving a trail of admiring emojis in its wake.

Finally, we have Singapore’s Nadia ‘Nebula’ Nair. Her specialty is metamorphosing everyday tasks into astronomical accomplishments. Nair, holding up her certificate of perfect attendance for a series of routine webinars, braces herself. With a roaring ‘thrilled to announce,’ she flings it into the digital cosmos, her false humility becoming a barely visible dot on the horizon.

This shot put event isn’t about physical strength; it’s about hurling one’s humblebrags so far that they traverse the whole LinkedIn universe. The victor is the one whose ‘happiness to share’ echoes the loudest, ensuring their self-aggrandizement is felt in every corner.

Brace yourself for an onslaught of ordinary deeds turned extraordinary, each throw a masterclass in ‘humble’ self-promotion. As the ‘Happy-to-Share Shot Put’ unfolds, remember to bask in the shared joy of each accomplishment, no matter how trivial they may truly be.

The Thrilled-to-Receive Marathon: The Endurance Test of Humblebragging

Fellow spectators, as we arrive at the latter stages of the False Modesty Olympics, the atmosphere is electrified with anticipation for the ultimate test of endurance — the ‘Thrilled-to-Receive Marathon.’ This event is the quintessential evaluation of our competitors’ skill in the relentless art of humblebragging.

Starting us off from Team Indonesia, we have Sari ‘Subtle Show-off’ Sutanto. Known for her inexhaustible list of minor accolades, Sari readies herself for this monumental journey. As she takes the first step, her booming voice resonates, “Thrilled to receive my Employee of the Day award for my unrivaled coffee-making skills!”

Next up, representing Malaysia is Latifah ‘Long-Run’ Lazim. A seasoned veteran in the humblebragging arena, Latifah sets her pace, announcing, “Overjoyed to have received the ‘Best Decorated Workspace’ title during our annual team-building event!”

From the sunny island of the Philippines, we welcome Benedicto ‘Boundless’ Bautista. Benedicto is renowned for his seemingly endless collection of minor professional victories. As he embarks on the marathon, he enthusiastically declares, “Ecstatic to have been recognized for my stellar attendance in team meetings!”

Finally, representing the Lion City, Singapore, we have Shanti ‘Steady-Stride’ Subramaniam. This woman is a force to be reckoned with in the world of marathon humblebragging, renowned for her ability to outlast her competitors. She commences her run, proclaiming, “Delighted to have my in-depth analysis of our office pantry supplies featured in the company newsletter!”

As they commence this humblebrag marathon, each stride, each breath, each “thrilled to receive” declaration echoing across the digital expanse, the challenge lies not in reaching the finish line first but in maintaining an engaging cadence of self-praise without losing the audience’s interest.

Who will prove to be the endurance champion, outpacing their fellow competitors in this ultimate humblebragging showdown? Who will be the last one standing? As we watch with bated breath, we’re eager to witness who will cross the finish line of the grand finale, the ‘Thrilled-to-Receive Marathon.’

The Humbled-to-Accept High Jump: Reaching New Heights of Faux Humility

As the False Modesty Olympics continues in full swing, we gear up for an event that tests not just our contestants’ metaphorical agility, but also their aptitude for dramatizing humility — the ‘Humbled-to-Accept High Jump.’ Our competitors will leap over the lofty bar of subtle self-promotion, their humblebrags propelling them into the rarified air of exaggerated humility.

Kicking off this event, from Thailand, we have Arun ‘Skyward’ Somsak. Known in the circuit for his prowess in overemphasizing routine commendations, he readies himself for his leap. With a statement of “Humbled to accept the title of ‘Most Consistent Keyboard Warrior’ at my firm,” he soars over the bar, his feigned modesty reaching astounding heights.

From Indonesia, let’s welcome Jaya ‘Jet’ Jusuf. A master in inflating the significance of minor recognitions, Jaya makes his move. He charges, voicing, “Humbled to accept the award for ‘Best Office Plant Keeper’,” and like a rocket, he bolts over the bar, leaving a trail of false modesty in his wake.

Next up, from Vietnam, we have Linh ‘Lightning’ Le. Famous for her ability to make mundane office achievements sound like Nobel Prize-worthy feats, Linh takes her run-up. With the exclamation, “Thrilled and humbled to accept the ‘Steadfast Stapler’ recognition at work,” she launches herself over the bar, an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

Finally, from Singapore, we have Harish ‘Hawk’ Hassan. A regular at turning everyday tasks into platforms for boastful humility, Harish has won many a fan. With his characteristic sprint towards the bar and the cry, “Immensely humbled to accept the ‘Always Fills the Water Cooler’ award,” he leaps, leaving an echo of his ‘humbleness’ resonating across the digital arena.

With all contestants having made their initial leaps, each with a unique blend of exaggerated humility and self-aggrandizement, the suspense builds. Who will make the highest jump? Who will sway the judges and the spectators with their prowess in humblebragging?

As we look on, the ‘Humbled-to-Accept High Jump’ promises a thrilling spectacle of inflated egos, soaring self-importance, and a masterclass in the art of the humblebrag.

The Superlative Decathlon: The Grand Finale of Professional Narcissism

Finally, we’ve reached the crescendo of the False Modesty Olympics — the tour de force of professional self-aggrandizement, the ‘Superlative Decathlon.’ Here, our contenders lock horns in ten distinctive yet intertwined disciplines, each a masterclass in humblebragging and shrewd self-promotion.

Leading the pack, from the Philippines, is Jaime ‘Juggernaut’ Jacinto, an expert at elevating mundane achievements into colossal victories. Can his diligently tailored updates, brimming with extra adjectives, dictate the pace of the event? “Deeply honored and remarkably thankful for the successful launch of our humble project,” he kicks off, setting a challenging precedent for the 100-meter Adjective Overload dash.

From Malaysia, let’s welcome Ain ‘Applause Magnet’ Abdullah, famed for her calculated timing and potent humblebrags. She lines up for the Javelin Throw of Timely Humblebrags. With a perfectly timed, “Proud and appreciative of the amazing feedback to our latest initiative,” she hurls her javelin, riveting the virtual audience’s attention.

Our third contender, from Indonesia, is Bima ‘Bragging Bull’ Budiman, a sorcerer of task magnification. His Shot Put of Task Inflation resonates across the digital field, “Humbled by the colossal responsibility of revamping our bi-weekly team meetings, resulting in extraordinary productivity leaps.” The virtual crowd stands in awe of Bima’s uncanny ability to balloon a routine task into an awe-inspiring accomplishment.

Finally, from Singapore, we have Serene ‘Stratospheric’ Seah. Her forte is the Long Haul Self-Promotion. As she commences her 1500-meter run, she meticulously catalogues each minor achievement. “Deeply humbled, grateful, and overjoyed for my journey as Junior Executive Assistant to the CEO — a transformative and enriching experience,” she shares, her declaration resounding with a plethora of superlatives.

Our contestants have now set the stage for the Superlative Decathlon, showcasing their unmatched prowess in making the trivial sound grandiose. As the challenges progress, anticipation mounts. Who will prevail in the ten rigorous trials of this ultimate showdown? Who will be crowned the undisputed maestro of professional self-importance? The answer lies in the echoing humblebrags of our contenders as they navigate the grand finale of the False Modesty Olympics. The virtual crowd watches with bated breath as we delve into the thrilling climax of this extraordinary competition.

Conclusion: The Closing Ceremony — All Good (and Humble) Things Must Come to an End

As the virtual applause of the digital audience reverberates through the ethers, we draw the curtain on the inaugural False Modesty Olympics. After a mesmerizing display of events that captivated and bewildered us in equal measure, we bid adieu to the carnival of unchecked self-importance. Our ‘humbled’ victors ascend the podium, their faces alight with pride (but fret not, they remain ‘thrilled’ and ‘honored’) as they accept their medals.

From Vietnam, we have Minh ‘Modesty Master’ Nguyen, whose deft ability to juggle multiple humblebrags, earned him the top spot. His masterful weaving of professional and personal achievements into an epic tale of success has left the audience in a state of awestruck admiration. “Grateful for this humbling recognition,” he beams, his joy and pride palpable.

Next, from Indonesia, we have Bima ‘Bragging Bull’ Budiman, whose knack for magnifying tasks has earned him a solid second place. His speech of gratitude resonates throughout the digital arena, “Honored to be here among such illustrious company,” he shares, basking in the digital limelight.

Last but not least, from Singapore, we have Serene ‘Stratospheric’ Seah, her podium finish is a testament to her aptitude for long haul self-promotion. “Truly overwhelmed and humbled to receive this prestigious honor,” she radiates a glow of accomplishment and faux humility.

The grand finale culminates in an explosive parade of self-laudation and exaggerated declarations. We’ve chuckled, we’ve squirmed, and we’ve pondered the true essence of modesty. As the digital flame is extinguished, we are left with a poignant reflection — that modesty, it seems, has vacated the LinkedIn sphere, superseded by a pandemic of self-aggrandizement cloaked in humility.

So, dear audience, as you traverse the labyrinth of the LinkedIn terrain, arm yourself with a dash of humor, a dose of eye-rolls, and a healthy serving of skepticism. Remember, behind the facade of ‘thrilled to announce’ and ‘delighted to share’ updates, we’re all just attempting to find our footing in this professional world.

As we conclude, take one last gaze at the battlefield of the False Modesty Olympics, a terrain where competitors vied to outdo each other in the art of corporate doublespeak. As the digital dust settles, one fact stands out — the realm of professional networking will forever bear the imprints of this event.

And with that, we wrap up our coverage of the False Modesty Olympics. To all the humblebraggers out there, I wish you a good night and an even better career!



Leigh McKiernon

Tech Startup Advisor | Korn Ferry Consultant | Digital Transformation | ASEAN | Indonesia | 🤓