We Rise By Lifting Others

In response to Coffee Challenge; Why I am pro the shoutout movement

Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles


I was 24 when I started my career in sales in 1987. Well, I am still 24, but that’s a story for another day. I was a rookie in a team of seasoned sales professionals. I got the job because they saw potential in me. I was excited about the sales training, as it had the reputation for being one of the best in the world. I was enthusiastic about following all that they taught us.

Armed with all this fabulous knowledge, I set out into the field to woo my prospective clients. For context, I handled the industrial belt in the city where I worked. Office automation sales are perhaps the toughest out there — at least it was, back then.

Anyway, I diligently made appointments with clients, met them, talked about our products, made some sales. Nothing earth-shaking. I was pleasant enough. Life went on.

Then the day came when a client I was talking to needed a recommendation for something else they were looking for. I had the answers and helped them.

A week later, I got a call from another prospect telling me that this client had recommended me. Thrilled, I went right over and closed the sale. One “shoutout” led to another, all because I had given a shoutout to another business with the first client. What a massive boost to my self-confidence!

The rest is history. I never believed I would thrive as a salesperson. Even today, I believe the secret of my success was my high referral rate. In fact, 60% of my sales came from word-of-mouth referrals.

That’s why shoutouts are effective

But more than the client referrals, I valued something else far more.

During one of my sales calls, I had to explain to the client why our products were better than the competitors. Dicey, because it was an open cabin and the competitors were sitting right outside listening in.

If there’s one thing I believe in, it is never to badmouth someone. I gently went on to explain that all three companies the client was considering were great and of course, it would ultimately be up to the client to choose. I also highlighted the Unique Selling Points of each competing product. Our USP was customer service, which I subtly highlighted with a case study to the client.

I left. Oh, I didn’t get that order. But apparently, my competitors who were waiting outside were impressed and the following week, called me to give me a lead. They didn’t have something the client wanted and they immediately thought of me.

I could ramble on about many more instances. But the point is, kindness always pays in ways we cannot even imagine. It is the power of a shoutout. Call it by any name — a recommendation, a referral, a testimonial, a vote, an endorsement— its effect is pure magic.

I worked in three different jobs in the same market. I am still in touch with some of my clients — and that’s special because I am talking about a corporate career I quit in 1997.

As a blogger, I believe I had success because I actively built a community. When a brand approached me, I readily recommended other bloggers who benefited from the “shoutout”. Today I am honored to be seen as a kind person who is ready to help others.


Fast forward to Medium

I’ve been active here since June 2021 even though I joined in 2016 and was in and out. I was disappointed that the MPP was not open to writers in India. But money can never equal the value of community.

I was thrilled when people clapped and commented on my posts. As my way of giving back, I started publishing my weekly roundups, highlighting and showcasing other writers’ work. I also made it a habit to recommend or refer to another writer in every post I wrote. The number of appreciative comments I’ve received is mind-boggling. Yes, I have screenshots of those to uplift me on days when I need cheering up.

When I came across Coffee Times — it was through Diana C.’s post where she gave me a shoutout. I ran right over to see, mainly because I love her and I am like a child when someone mentions me. After engaging with her post, I explored the publication.

Of course, the name Coffee Times was enough to draw me in, being a coffee lover. When I read the guidelines, I was thrilled.

A mandatory shoutout? Heck yeah!

It felt like a dream come true. I’ve always fantasized about a community of writers who wholeheartedly supported one another, and shared each other’s work.

Coffee Times, as I now know, is the embodiment of all that.

Winston goes above and beyond to support writers, offer incentives, and amplify posts on social media. And it is doubly valuable because nobody is paying him to do it.

Our fabulous editing team cheerfully take turns interacting with writers here and monitoring drafts throughout the week. We enjoy chatting with one another as well, trying to think up ways to make Coffee Times better for its members.


Oh, did I tell you I now have close friends on Medium?

Dr. Preeti Singh and I enjoy laughing, chatting, and joking over the phone, and messaging each other at all hours.

Sujona Chatterjee and I love to chat and share gifs of our favorite stars and other silly stuff on WhatsApp, besides discussing more serious stuff like, you know, life. She even went and wrote a post about it and made me all teary-eyed!

Trista Signe Ainsworth and I connected on WhatsApp.

JM Heatherly and I are like old friends now.

As part of Kristina God’s online writing boot camp, I get to have fun conversations every day and learn from my teammates comprising of talented writers — Tamil, Alicia Domínguez, Trisha Dunbar, T Mann, Sally Prag, Christina, Charles Waters, Courtney Simms, and Jameson Steward.

Nancy Blackman and I are dreaming of collaborating on a project.

I could go on and on.

None of this would have been possible without shoutouts, which led to connections, to larger audiences, strong friendships — which is really what we want in life, right?

I am thrilled that each time I publish a post, I have a loyal set of writer friends who enjoy commenting and clapping. And sharing on social media, giving me the privilege of introducing myself to their audience.

It takes two hands to clap

But when you do it, it makes some noise. As more people join in to support one another, the effect is amplified — into applause!

I am sure Tim Denning and the other greats we know here on Medium did not start off by being famous. He must have put in the effort to get where he is today — connecting with people, supporting them.

Let’s pledge to support one another, grow together. Be generous with our shoutouts.

Because we rise by lifting others

This post is a tribute to my tribe here at Medium — people who uplift me with their comments and mentions —

Vanita Cyril, Kris Bedenian, Jill (Conquering Cognitions), pockett dessert,

Mary Chang Story Writer, Thief, Srini, Liberty Forrest, Author, Mukundarajan V N, R. Rangan PhD, Pene Hodge, Jimmy Misner Jr., B.R. Shenoy, Penelope Mayfield Penny Grubb

Sandra Pawula, Evelyn Lim, Zeenat Merchant Syal, M.A, M.Sc, Cathy Taughinbaugh, Elle Sommer

Julie Gaeta, Ali Hall, David Acaster, Jeanine Tew, Karen Schwartz, Barb Dalton, KSHernandez, Adrienne Beaumont, Mulan, Lady Dr. Gabriella Korosi, Bingz Huang, Shameem Anwar, APURVAM

BichoDoMato, Ellie Jacobson ✍🏻, Lucy Dan 蛋小姐 (she/her/她), James Beaufait, Umme Salma, Katie Michaelson, Sharon Sayler, Author, Jane Frost (Jane Grows Garden Rooms), Donnette Anglin, Life is Amazing with Books and Writers, Sahil Patel, David Perlmutter . . .❤

And I am going to die of guilt because I am sure I unintentionally left so many people out.

But you get the point, don’t you? We are stronger together!

Shoutouts make me who I am — happy, confident, motivated, inspired, successful

By the way, I am reading every response to this “contest” thanks to being tagged in every post, and I cannot even begin to describe how full my heart is.

P.S. If you read the rules of this “contest”, there is one that says the entry should be published in another publication. Do you see how this is promoting other publications as well with this? Let’s applaud that! And dream of people supporting one another willingly!



Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles

Publisher, Namaste Now! Writer, all genres. Editor. Poet. Diabetes Warrior. Traveler. Photographer. Hopeful. Wears son's oversized tshirts https://vidyasury.com