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A Lesson in Self Marketing From Two Knights

4 Thoughts On How You Can’t Be Your Own Hype Person

There is a story about a knight who walked into the King’s throne room after a long journey that involved many great feats.

The knight approached the King, offered a diplomatic bow in salute, and, with his sword in hand, faced the King and proclaimed:

“I am the greatest knight in all the land.”

The next day, one of the King’s noblemen who had traveled far and wide walked into the King’s throne room. Because of their shared history, this nobleman was greatly trusted by the King and the King was eager for his message.

The nobleman approached the King, offered a diplomatic bow in salute, and then turned towards the door and proclaimed:

“I want to introduce you to the greatest knight in all the land.”

Who did the King believe?

What you say about yourself, while it may be true, is greatly diminished without being validated by those around you. You may be the greatest knight in all the land, but if you have to tell us…it’s much harder to believe.

It is what people say about you that is more verifiable.

Spend less time proclaiming and promoting yourself and more time actually being a great knight. There will certainly be a modern version of the nobleman who will do the promoting for you.

What Does This Mean For You? Here’s the Translation.

1. Focus On Your Content

If you are producing / living / doing things with the motivation of getting noticed, it will smell funny. An audience can sense the surfaceness of this kind of content. Marketing is all about perception and giving off a “needy” or “surfacy gimmick” vibe is going to create a negative perception. As Dave Chappelle says:

“In the age of spin, we want to know what is real.”

Short term, you might get attention, but it is far less sustainable than building an audience that is invested in who you really are.

If you have an agenda or objective to be known, then it is likely that you didn’t do the interior work that is necessary to continually produce great content. Intrinsic motivation will always be more desirable to the world than extrinsic motivation. Exterior value only comes from an interior place. You have to be smoking what you are selling.

I’ve written before that writing and creating should be like writing a love letter — you are the actual recipient. You have this thing inside of you that you just have to release and, at that point, it has already reached its destination. The outside audience is just a side benefit.

You have to start with the interior agenda — just do the good work of being a great knight and the marketing component will be tremendously easier.

Otherwise you will spend all your time playing the game and jumping through hoops and won’t become a great knight in the process.

This is why many great artists, writers, & creators don’t get immediate attention — they focus on the work, they focus on themselves being changed first, and they actually become great knights that the world can’t help but affirm. Making what you produce the natural result takes more time than simply conceiving a product to sell.

You will become a great knight — which is your primary goal anyways, right? — and the world won’t be able to help but tell us about you.

2. Bring Value to Others (i.e., build trust)

Gary Vaynerchuk articulates this immensely well — do things for free knowing that there can be a strategic investment in the long game. You are building in relational promotion that will authentically result from the trust you create with these various noblemen and women. Ryan Holiday calls it “The Canvas Strategy”.

Medium’s tool of clapping and responses is built for this. You can also tell the people who leave responses who are just looking for attention, but if you genuinely invest in speaking to other’s content and adding value to it, trust is built.

3. Make Your Marketing Goal Secondary

I know all of this is going against dominant wisdom and I’m not say that you shouldn’t utilize the free world of marketing that comes with social media and modern technology, but hear me out.

From Vincent Van Gogh to Wendell Berry to comedian Bo Burnham — some of the most monumental creators of history have rebelled against this perspective and they have something in common — they have rebelled against the common promotional processes of their day. They could have filed in line to get famous & popular, but they all threw that aside.

They allowed marketing to be a result, not the goal.

They created for meaning, not attention.

Instead of selling your soul to the conveyor belt system of popularity and fame, make your goal intrinsic.

Stop focusing on selling yourself and start focusing having something to offer that becomes irresistible.

Which brings us to the next point:

4. Don’t Work Harder, Work Differently

Pay attention to the common marketing techniques and then decide not to do them. If everyone puts the same style “Call to Action”, then by replicating that, you have already lost.

If something has been around long enough to be published as the “best way to _____” then you are already behind the game.

There is a cultural entropy to systems — sociologically, when a culture is created, it automatically changes the culture. Once something has been established, though it may have worked previously, we now need the next thing. If you are trying to get ahead, you can’t do the same thing as everyone else (they are probably better than you at it anyway). You wouldn’t build a business on the 1990’s corporate model.

If everyone is taking the first knight’s technique, then you might want to find a different one.

Self-marketing has a dominant, common strategy that has become normal — so don’t do that.

Enjoy your process of creating and, remember:

You can’t be your own hype person.

Marketing myself here would be contradictory — so I’m not going to offer a free prize if you sign up.

But I do write about crafting how you live & I’d be happy to share that with you:

Contact me here or use Twitter | Facebook.

Originally published at




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Tyler Kleeberger

Tyler Kleeberger

Pursuing what it means to be human so as to build the best world possible. Practical ethics through in-depth exploration. Becoming Human:

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