Career Transitions: Crafting Your Medium Humble-Brag

Dan Conway
Jun 28, 2015 · 5 min read

I’ve been extremely impressed with the false humility of a number of recent career transition stories on Medium. As you prepare to flame out, be terminated or quit of your own volition due to shameful or scandalous behavior, including perversion, data theft, dullness, plagiarism, or just plain incompetence, don’t forget that Medium provides a long-form opportunity to settle scores and set the historical record crooked.

The carefully crafted Medium story can give the appearance that- at the nadir of your professional life- you are above it all, you are concerned about others, and you are a soulful human being moving on to an even more lucrative future. Not sad, scared and looking for shelter like the rest of us.

Now wipe your eyes and remember that your mother still loves you — not as much as she loves your siblings, or as much as you love yourself — but enough to clench her teeth and hit Recommend on the smelly little fiction you have crafted.

These five tactics will make your story compelling, fresh and will strip away a small piece of our collective humanity each time they are consumed:

1. Take credit for inventing and/or changing an industry.

It doesn’t matter that we’ve never heard of you or your company, or that there isn’t much to the industry you have changed. The prize goes to those aloof and quietly brilliant people who have “hacked” their corner of the world with a mind-blowingly clever twist of some sort. This isn’t you. But it doesn’t really matter, since obscurity is the world’s best invention for hiding bullshit.

“Looking back, before I joined AngiaVista Labs, Data Focus Amalgamation wasn’t even a known concept. I’m proud of our work to define and advance this field, ensuring that data will be focused and amalgamated across vertical industries, at scale, using HADOOP and OLAP. Frankly, its a whole new world and I’m stupefied to have played such a central role at such a crucial point in our civilization.”

2. Find a connection to Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Dan Conway, Steve Jobs, Ev Williams or Sean Parker.

Come on, surely you can find some way to drop one or more of these names without committing a fraud. Pretend this is a resume writing exercise on steroids. Exercise the same muscle here — without crossing the line. Your vague-book skills will come in handy:

“To my fellow coders, we shared a curiosity about data streams that will bind us forever. To Ev Williams, you have been an inspiration and our paths will cross again, brother. You still owe me a bowl of cous cous!”

No, you don’t know Ev Williams. But you did run into him at the Googleplex years ago when he took the last spoonful of cous cous as you stalked him from ten feet. That night you dreamt you and Ev were in Entourage. Ari’s head was a turnip and Vince was moving in slow motion and smelled like popcorn. You are definitely a weird cat. Regardless, this name drop will give you instant street cred.

3. Throw-down spiritual observations and findings with authority.

It’s best if you ground this section in hippy-like experiences. For example, it’s good to say that a revelation of one sort came to you while walking in the redwoods, staring into a pond, or tending to your garden. If you have children, perhaps your truth was discovered when you were looking into your daughter’s eyes, or when you teared up watching your spouse bathe a small child.

“To the Universe, you have guided me as I traversed the wild streams of Tahoe with only my guitar, backpack and notebook as company. Three hundred notebook pages later, as I watch the sun rise and hear the soft breathing of my baby boy in the next room, I see that I’ve come full circle in my life, my career and in my spirit.”

Let loose. Everyone will eat this up. They will be impressed and intimidated.

4. Sound fiercely protective of those who pushed you out.

This artificial loyalty will throw everyone off the trail. Surely you weren’t fired if you speak so glowingly of your former colleagues. You are going to damn them with faint praise by giving them credit for the small insignificant corner of the world they tend to, while elevating yourself to a higher plane.

“To Eddie, Sarah and Gilbert: I leave AngiaVista Labs in good hands. The dream has been established, the concept proven, and I’m confident your steady hand will keep things moving along. I will be rooting for you as I leave base camp and once again head for the summit. Bon Voyage dear friends!”

5. Make your next gig sound so awesome and otherworldly, it will make Marc Andreessen’s second act look like a footnote.

Don’t spell it out since unemployment and consulting are clearly not worthy of the version of yourself that is writing this story. But do throw out some words and phrases that imply you have somehow transcended the concept of work entirely. Maybe you are playing with some friends and some concepts, or that you have collectivized some projects and are tethering them to a cohort of team members. Just be humble about the whole thing — make it clear this is your mission and it would belittle the future if you called it work or a project or anything like that.

“Finally, look for me across a number of platforms as I work through some embedded network concepts with a few other dreamers and misfits. We all seem to be cursed with the same curiosity. You will hear about us before too long I’m sure.”

That’s it. Once your story is crafted you can move on to your next “adventure” with the confidence that all loose ends are tied up and your legacy secured.

Keep an eye out for my next story — an idea I conceived of while staring into the moonlight and meditating with my spirit: “How to Finally Get People to Notice You on Medium.” So If you liked this story, please hit Recommend and follow me on Medium.

My thoughts on the Google:

My own near-miss tech career transition:

A fascination with Millenials:

The Drone

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store