Attuned Leadership for Women Podcast

Episode 024

Mastering Cringe-Free Self-Promotion for Women Leaders with Anthea Rowe


Ready to crack the code on self-promotion without the cringe as a woman leader? Dive into Dr. Crystal Frazee’s latest conversation with Anthea Rowe, the PR expert who’s mastered the art of making your achievements shine, minus the awkwardness and second-guessing.

Listen to her strategies on how to tackle the common (invisible) communication challenges women face, like the “prove it again” phenomenon and the likability trap. This isn’t just about climbing the ladder; it’s about owning your narrative with confidence and class to advance your career and get the recognition your hard work deserves.

Two white women on the cover of a podcast episode image discussing the topic of cringe-free self-promotion for women leaders.

About Anthea Rowe 

Anthea is a communication coach, speaker and educator. A former PR professional, Anthea spent 2 decades building the reputations of CEOs and Fortune 500 companies. Today, she teaches mid-career women how to communicate at work and build professional reputations so they get paid, praised and promoted.

Anthea defines herself as a “corporate feminist” who believes 3 things:

  1. Elevating women helps employees thrive and companies succeed.
  2. Conventional management advice often undermines women’s success at work.
  3. Businesses can – and should – be a force for good.

Quotes from the Episode 

“It’s not what you know, it’s who knows what you know.”

Anthea Rowe

“Self-deprecation is dangerous. Full stop.

Anthea Rowe


00:00:00 – The Dilemma of Self-Promotion for Women
00:04:04 – The Importance of Communication for Women in the Workplace
00:06:17 – The “Prove It Again” Syndrome
00:07:04 – The Impact of Gender on Career Progression
00:09:08 – The Consequences of Not Self-Promoting
00:12:03 – The Importance of Status Updates with Managers
00:15:44 – The Challenge of Self-Promotion in Different Industries
00:17:30 – The Misconception of Hard Work Leading to Recognition
00:22:40 – The Risks of Self-Promotion for Women
00:24:23 – Self-Promotion in Networking and Client Interactions
00:25:17 – The CAR Formula for Self-Promotion
00:29:03 – The Flaws in Generic Self-Promotion Advice
00:42:06 – The Dangers of Self-Deprecation in the Workplace
00:43:09 – The Importance of Explicitly Communicating Business Understanding
00:44:18 – The Weight of Others’ Opinions on Your Value

Mentioned In This Episode:

      • Virtual Executive Roundtable “Communication That Gets Buy-In & Compels Action from Teams and Stakeholders” March 26th, 12-1:30 pm EST. Free to participate. Join Dr. Crystal Frazee and 10 guests, all women in upper leadership managing teams, for peer to peer discussion about navigating their personal communication challenges, as well as how to elevate team communication dynamics. If you want to RSVP, email me at [email protected]. If it’s a fit, I’ll send you a calendar invitation to the event.

Connect with Anthea Rowe Online:
Anthea’s Website
Anthea’s LinkedIn

Connect with Crystal on Social Media:
Crystal’s Website
Crystal’s LinkedIn
Crystal’s Instagram
Crystal’s TikTok

FREE Leadership Resources from Crystal:

Get updates about Crystal’s upcoming book! REVIVE: The Working Woman’s Unexpected Guide to Recovering from Burnout

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Prefer to Read? Here’s the transcript!

*Just a heads up – the provided transcript is likely to not be 100% accurate.


Dr. Crystal Frazee: Have you ever felt that twinge of discomfort when it comes to promoting your own accomplishments? Let’s say you’re at a networking event and you see someone that you want to update on some recent big wins. You want to make that good impression, but you’re not sure exactly how to do it. Well, if so, you’re not alone. As a woman, tuning your own horn poses a real dilemma. Sharing about yourself can help you seem more confident and capable, but also make you appear less warm, friendly, and possibly self-centered. Today, I’m talking with Anthea Rowe, a PR expert and the go-to resource for learning the art of cringe-free self-promotion. She’s going to help us find the sweet spot where self-promotion feels smooth and natural without the ick factor.


Dr. Crystal Frazee:

Where do established and aspiring women leaders go to get answers to their biggest challenges, like how to deal with double standards, break free from hustle and burnout, drive change without being bossy, and how to raise visibility by doing less, not more? I’m Dr. Crystal Frazee, your host and a women’s health and leadership expert and author. I’ve spent the past 15 years developing the answers to those questions. I believe that your body has all the wisdom you need and that without much effort, you can leverage it for things like faster, better decision-making, creating a magnetic presence for influence, and even navigating perimenopause so your performance goes up instead of down. In this show, I will teach you what traditional leadership approaches overlook, how to leverage your body wisdom to break free from time and energy traps, shatter barriers, dissolve the good woman programming that stops you from living on your terms, Level the playing field at home and work and be the most powerful leader you can be. Get ready to rewrite the rules of success and satisfaction using the practical strategies of attuned leadership for women.

Main Content: 

Dr. Crystal Frazee: Hi, Anthea, welcome and thank you for being the first guest in the communication series.

Anthea Rowe: Hey, thanks for having me, Crystal. I’m so excited to be here.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: I know, me too. Thank you, thank you. So for those, before we jump in, for those of you that missed episode 23, that show kicks off this series. And this communication series is focused on decoding the struggles that women face with communication and walks you through the cutting edge best practices to communicate like a pro. And in this series, so starting with episode 23 and going on for a total of five shows, we’re covering self-promotion, negotiation, how to compel others to take action without resistance, and how to build influence through body language. Today, we have this very special topic. We are all going to benefit from what Anthea has to share. And before we get into those tips, I want to give an intro of Anthea so you know who you’re listening to. She is a communication coach, speaker, and educator. She’s a former PR professional. She spent two decades building reputations of CEOs and Fortune 500 companies. Anthea knows what she’s talking about. And today she’s teaching mid-career women how to communicate at work and build professional reputation so they get paid, praised, and promoted. I met Anthea through a LinkedIn relationship, and I’ve really appreciated what I’ve learned from her. And I’m really excited about the conversation. So why don’t you kick us off, Anthea, and start off by sharing why communication for women, specifically about our accomplishments, poses such a problem.

Anthea Rowe: Yeah, thanks. Gosh, so I was disheartened to learn in a London School of Economics study that examined 50 years of research that when women are successful at work, They’re perceived as lucky. And when men are successful at work, they’re perceived as competent. And so this was a meta study, right, of tons of research. And that bears out in the workplace. And so what I learned through personal experience and in working with my women clients is that before women even open our mouths, we’re perceived as being less capable than our male peers. So that makes the stakes even higher for communication, because then when we do speak, there are a ton of factors that make it harder for our peers to listen to us or make them less inclined to listen to us and see us as experts and authorities. So everything from the pitch of our voices, people perceive leaders as having lower voices, women have smaller vocal cords tend to have higher pitch voices. So even physical attributes. position us as less likely to be leaders and inclines people less to listen to us. Women get interrupted more than men. You know, any woman who’s been in a meeting can tell you that experience. Even Supreme Court judges get interrupted more when they’re female than men. And women are seen to have less business acumen. And there’s great work done by leadership expert Susan Colentono on this topic. that even when women understand the business, the strategy, the finances, they are assumed not to. And so we have to go to extra lengths to make it explicit that we understand the business before we even start talking about our area of expertise, whether it’s sales or HR or marketing. So we start out behind. And then when we start to talk, we still face more challenges. So communication is really fraught, but it can be done in a way that’s effective and helps you advance your career.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: So what you’ve said highlights that there’s massive cultural and societal influences, where there’s a huge credibility gap, where men, as soon as they say something, are automatically given credibility, and women, when they say something, are met with skepticism, and then they have to prove the credibility in what they say and how they’re perceived following that.

Anthea Rowe: Exactly. It’s I wish I had the name of the person who coined it. If I think of it, I’ll find it. But it’s been referred to as the prove it again syndrome, which is. You know, women get the like, OK, well, prove that you’re capable. Prove it again. Prove it again. Right. You can’t just be assumed as being capable. So, yeah, we face this skepticism, unfortunately. And what’s interesting is that we don’t experience it, at least not as intensely in early career. And there are a couple of reasons for it. One is we may not recognize it because we’re new in our careers, but also early career is different from middle and late career because your value in your organization is primarily as a technical expert, right? Early career. So I was in PR. So I was cranking out media releases, I was holding news conferences, I was pitching stories. And that’s all very subject matter expertise, right? And so when it comes to performance reviews and being seen as a contributor at work, It’s very black and white to compare you to Pierce, right, and to evaluate your success. As you transition to mid-career, and by mid, I mean in both tenure, like age, and then also level of seniority, so heading into management, right, and manager, director level, what really matters there is less your technical expertise, because you usually have a team doing the work, and it’s more about your business acumen. But as we just acknowledged, women are just by default perceived as having less business acumen, being seen less as leaders, and being less authoritative. So all of a sudden, and then the judgment of your performance becomes more subjective. And it becomes more like, does this person have what it takes to lead? Does this person have what it takes to, right? So that’s where it kind of sneaks up on you, where you’re like, and a lot of my clients, They are high performers. They’re stars early in their career. They’re moving up quickly, getting promoted. And then they hit mid-career and it’s like they hit a brick wall. And they’re like, I don’t understand what happened. So that’s where it’s snuck up on them, this. The recognition that like, oh, my being a subject matter expert doesn’t matter anymore, but it takes so long to realize that it’s almost too late.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: Right. And that level of nuance isn’t just women being perceived by male team members or male leadership. It’s from the studies, you know, the way I understand it, it’s men and women have those same unconscious biases about women in leadership. as you’re listening and you’re thinking about your own workspace and your industry and your environment, if you’re in a male-dominant setting, you’re in tech, you’re in manufacturing, you’re in defense, maybe you’re thinking, well, OK, I’m raising my hand because this is a male-dominated industry. And for sure, this is happening. But if you’re in health care or you’re in another education, some other female-dominant industry, this still applies. So we all need to take this lens, this big perspective that, unfortunately, it’s happening. and to have an open mind as we continue to learn the skills that Anthea is going to provide.

Anthea Rowe: Yeah, you’re so right about, you know, it’s not this is not an issue of men holding back women. This is an issue of how we as a society view women as experts or not, how we as a society decide whether or not to listen to women and see them as credible. Yeah. Fundraising is another domain. H.R. as a function, marketing. you tend to see, or communications, PR, my field, you tend to see these professions dominated by women in the workforce. So in communications, for example, the workforce is about 65 to 85, depending on the source, percent female or women. But at the level of chief communications officer or executive, the representation of women is less than 25%. So even in those fields where women dominate in numbers, they don’t dominate in the executive suite.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: I guess let’s go ahead and dig into impact on career. Is that a piece then of going into mid-career and having these communication challenges? Do you think that’s a part of why we have the broken rung, which is that term of not getting promoted up into those seats?

Anthea Rowe: It is, yeah. And I’ll admit, this is something I resisted personally for a long time. I resented the idea that your work alone couldn’t stand for itself. Right. I wanted to work at an organization. We do. And this, you know, the research shows that women tend to share the sentiment of like, I don’t want to believe that there’s like a shadow organization or invisible rules. I want to work for a company where hard work gets promoted and hard work gets recognized. So, you know, we tend to if you identify with that, you know, if your listeners identify with that, there’s like the disconnect between the way you wish things were and the way things actually are. Right. And so then if you realize like, OK, it doesn’t actually work the way I want. My hard work isn’t just going to get recognized on its own. I have to promote myself. Well, that starts with your manager. So a lot of the work I do with my clients even is like, how do you do status updates with your manager, which sounds so trivial and small, and yet they’re the gatekeeper to your career. Right. So I see a lot of women, a lot of my clients and peers, they’ll like keep track of their list and then they have their like biweekly one on one with their manager. And they’d be like, OK, here are my problems. I need your help, da, da, da, da, da. Well, one of the first things you could start doing is flipping that status update meeting and starting with, frankly, some of the things you’ve achieved. And that may sound gringy, but that’s the first step because your manager, they literally are the gatekeeper. And I know that your audience is maybe more senior, so they can think about it as them being the gatekeeper. They could even coach their team members on OK, this is great, and I’m happy to help you move the projects forward. And let’s also talk about what you’ve accomplished, even if in a two-week period it’s just something small, right? So if you’re a marketer and you’ve been working on improving the search engine optimization of web pages, OK, let’s frame that in a way that matters to the company. So you, marketer, my direct report, you are increasing traffic to the web pages of priority products that are critical to the company’s growth. And you see how really quickly in those what seem like really tactical status update meetings, you start changing the language from the doing and the tactical to the impact and the business outcome. So the, because that getting, so like the first question that you asked was like, doesn’t seem to matter how we communicate and, you know, promoting ourselves.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: I’m going to jump in real quick because there’s a huge difference in those two examples where the second one where you were talking about the impact, I leaned in, right? And that’s really what we want with that communication is to have someone’s ears kind of like they’re, Oh, why? What? And kind of come towards you and want to hear more of that. And I had that in my body. I had that response. And so I think that’s just so interesting. It’s just a real live example there.

Anthea Rowe: Yeah. And those live examples, they’re so small and trivial, and yet they’re everything. They’re everything. Because when we think back on, say, 2023, right, we’re recording this early 2024. And if you thought back on, like, what did you do in 2023? There’s a list of activities and projects, right? But when we say, what did you do? We should actually assume that we’re hearing the question, what did you accomplish? And that’s one of the pieces of advice I give my clients is when someone says, hey, how are things going? How are things going? Whether it’s your hairdresser or an exec in the hallway, instead of how’s it going, and the answer is often, good, I’m really busy, or I’m excited I have these three projects on the go. OK, that tells them your bucket of responsibilities. But it doesn’t tell them what impact you create. Right. And so my big thing is, like, tell them what you do and why it matters. And so your manager is that first level that’s critical because your manager can recommend you for a project. Right. They can recommend you to lead something. They can get you to collaborate with another team, raise your visibility to the execs and actively promote you. So to those women listening of your listeners, as the managers themselves, they can start coaching their direct reports on how to connect their tactical weekly projects and activities to the actual outcomes they’re creating. Because that’s the kind of language that gets respected as you move up higher in the organization.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: Yeah, I love that. That’s great. That’s great. And I kind of interrupted you. So how do you want to describe the impact of that? So if you’re not doing that in your status updates and your annual reviews, and you’re not speaking on the impact that you’re having at that broader level, how do we capture that as far as the impact on women specifically?

Anthea Rowe: Yeah, that’s where you see, someone staying in a role for five, seven, eight, 10 years, right, where you find yourself doing the same role over and over again, rather than continuing to grow. And it’s because you’re seen as a doer, right? And frankly, the more years that you’re a doer in a role and in a team, the more they see you as critical, and actually, the managers become less willing to promote you because they’re not dependent on you, right? Absolutely. Yeah. And so what I see in a lot of women and men, too, because this is 100% all women or 100% all men, is their desire to just like, I just want to put my head down and do good work. And that’s fine if you’re happy with where you’re at, but that’s not what gets you promoted. So to your question about why does it matter that we communicate, it’s because people don’t actually know what you do. we think that people are thinking about us a lot more than they are. They’re really not, right? Or that they understand more. And if you ask people that I had worked with over the years, some would think that I was a media relations expert. Some would think that I was an event planner. Some would think that I was a writer, right? Because of the one thing they knew me for. So think about that, all the relationships you have across the company, whether it’s like peer managers or directors, even peer executives, or, you know, an executive team that you report to a couple layers up, they might know you for like one thing. And they might think that’s what you do, they might not know what you’re capable of. And there’s a great quote from, she’s an expert in the tech financing space, I think, and also in networking, Kelly Hoey, And she says, it’s not what you know, it’s who knows what you know. Which again, the idealist in me is like, it shouldn’t be that way. I shouldn’t have to network, right? But the reality is, the organizations are the way they are.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: It’s not what you know, it’s who knows what you know. Is that it?

Anthea Rowe: Yep, it’s not what you know, it’s who knows what you know. Which when you, you know, it sounds trite. And then when you stop and reflect on it, you’re like, yeah. You know, when my example of clients, it’s like, I have an executive client who’s an excellent HR leader. And she’s like, I just want my executive peers to come to me and see me as an expert on culture, on engagement, on productivity. And I’m like, Great. So what have you done to position yourself as an expert in culture, engagement, productivity? And she’s like, well, I’m not comfortable saying I’m an expert because my team does all the work. And I’m like, well, we want to be seen as experts. We want people to come to us, but we’re not comfortable claiming it for a lot of valid reasons. This is the tension that we have to reconcile. mm-hmm and so that in these examples they’re missing that career progression they’re missing being pulled into new committees and projects and opportunities and they’re not getting the recognition yeah in the form of exactly they’re not getting new opportunities the form of projects they’re not they’re getting performance reviews that consistently underwhelm them they get like a it’s like a three out of four or something right which is like you did everything great you’re awesome and you worked really hard but you didn’t do anything special or amazing, right? And they just don’t understand that because it’s like you did your job, but you didn’t show us that you can create incredible outcomes for the company. So they get these kind of confusing feelings like you’re a team player, we couldn’t live without you. But you’re not, you know, you’re not director material is what a lot of my clients hear. Mm hmm. Ouch. Before working with me, we’re like, all right, let’s make you be seen as director material. Right?

Dr. Crystal Frazee: Yeah. And so I think What I’m assuming is that a lot of high achievers would be in that situation. They’re having that annual review. They get the three out of the four. And they’re like, great, I’ll buckle down and just work harder. But that’s not really the answer, is it?

Anthea Rowe: No, it’s really not. And it’s so hard to tell someone who’s already working 60 hours a week. The answer is not to just work harder. So sometimes the work that I end up doing with clients is like workload management, because the truth is you have to actually be spending at least 5% of your time communicating your work. And I don’t mean like weaseling your way into the executive suite in order to just be like, hey, guess what I did today? But literally thinking about, OK, this week, what are my priorities and how am I going to talk about them to someone I meet in the hallway? Or on a Friday, what did I accomplish this week that I want my manager to know about? Or I had a great conversation with a client, but no one knows because I just had the conversation. I’m going to whip off a quick email to my manager and just let them know I had a great, like, there’s no action required, but just FYI, this relationship’s improving and I see it going this way, right? Women tend to do a lot less of that proactive, unsolicited communication because it feels a little out of line, right? It feels a little like, well, my manager’s busy, I shouldn’t bother her. However, research has shown that the people who are often most successful, even if their manager finds it annoying, the people who give unsolicited updates on accomplishments, new connections, ideas, achievements, They’re the ones that the people think of first when they need to recommend someone for a project, for a promotion, whatever, right? So we’re balancing that line between, you know, yeah, you don’t want to be annoying, you want to be respectful of their time. And also, they don’t know what you’re achieving unless you tell them.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: And are there any specific strategies when women are communicating that can help them make sure that communication is better received? The whole risk is that the Goldilocks syndrome, the likability trap in how we communicate can make us really cut. It’s so hard to hit that middle ground. How do we make sure we’re hitting that middle ground?

Anthea Rowe: It is so hard and it really, it’s exhausting that we have to put so much effort into it just before we open our mouths. The key is really, it’s not about you, which is fascinating. You write in a topic about self-promotion and a lot of the work I do with clients, with individual clients is around their resumes and positioning for a new job. And I always say like, even your resume, it’s not about you. It’s about organizations. And in the case of your resume, organizations in the past that you helped solve a problem for, which is evidence that you might be able to solve a similar problem for your current or future organization. So then in the context of even updating a manager or having a conversation with an exec, my recommendation to women is it’s not about you, but it’s about the problems you have solved for your team for the organization, right? And what that really does, it’s, it relieves their anxiety of like, God, I don’t want to talk about myself like this is cringy. And it makes people more receptive, because you’re not really talking about yourself, you’re talking about the company. So, you know, yeah, you know, you’re talking about a expanding into a new office, you could say, Oh, I used to work for a shipping company. And We needed to expand into America and I led the the launch or the setup of our Ireland location where we were able to you know, establish a base of operations for Europeans. So I’m happy to consult on the strategy for our international expansion. Now, you know, you’ve made it about a business priority that another company had in that case, and the and then provided evidence that can be backed up if you had to, of the way you contributed to that outcome. Right. And it’s just so different. Whereas the alternative, which feels like bragging would be like, oh, I’m an expert in international expansion. Like, oh, I could do that with it unsubstantiated. Right.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: And what about, can we come up with an example where maybe it’s not really in a corporate setting? Like in the intro to this show, I kind of gave an example of you’re at a conference or some networking event and you see someone you want to make a good impression. Maybe it’s a potential future client or just a relationship you want to nurture for some other professional reason.

Anthea Rowe: Yeah, so like any good marketing, it’s about doing the audience. So if it’s, say, a client and you know you’ve served a client in a similar industry or the same industry, right, then it might be introducing yourself and saying, oh, yeah, last year I worked with a company in your industry and I helped them Go from X to Y, you know and it was really interesting because and I really enjoyed it working in that sector because so again You didn’t come out and say hi. I’m crystal. I’m an expert in you know marketing for your sector, but you demonstrated that you are right, so Yeah, it really is about knowing the audience. So I actually coach people on like you probably have a different Intro, if you’re meeting, say, a peer or, yeah, like a peer at a networking conference, then you might, if you were meeting like a CEO of a prospective client or even a company you might want to work for, you might position yourself differently.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: That makes a lot of sense. Yeah. And it’s not like we need to have like a list on our iPhone in our notes app of like the intros, but just starting to, I don’t know, I feel like maybe if I try to like systematize what we’ve said so far. First, it’s like know that it may be uncomfortable because generally women just don’t have the experience in putting ourselves out there and taking the risk to promote ourselves. And your nervous system might do some freaking out and, you know, have some ways that you manage stress that you maybe take care of yourself before you walk into the networking event, before your weekly update, you know, something like that. And then, you know, just hearing the impacts that Anthea has shared, knowing that if you don’t, You’re the one that stands to lose the company, you know, your industry has someone in mind, they’ll pick someone else that comes to, you know, top of their mind. And so this is about you making sure that the hard work you’re doing is being noticed and And then, I don’t know, are there other things that listeners need to be thinking about as far as other advice they’ve heard elsewhere, let’s say in grad school for business or reading a book or magazine or Uncle Tommy, or even maybe they have a female in their family that’s in upper leadership, but advice that you’ve heard women get that you think they should maybe reconsider?

Anthea Rowe: All of it. I mean, that’s maybe a little bit bold, but yeah, so much of the existing advice on how to be a good leader, how to advance in your career, how to communicate at work. is conducted on either on male leaders who are at the top of their game like fortune 500 ceos who are predominantly male or they’re conducted on you know a mixed group and then the results are not sex disaggregated. So we don’t know whether the outcomes of a communication tactic or something are equal for women and for men. And so yeah, my message to your listeners would be like, first, be skeptical and beware of any stock advice. So one I heard recently, and I know a lot of people admire Seth Godin, he’s a fascinating expert in marketing. And he sent out a message recently saying, like, speak up, you know, don’t say that good idea in the next meeting. Don’t sit silently. And he’s right. You know, companies want innovation. They want to be competitive. And so the more ideas, the better. And, you know, the reality for women is they receive harsher, more frequent criticism. that lingers longer when they’re perceived as not understanding something or making a mistake or saying something that was dumb, right? And men tend to get a pass on like, oh, well, you know, Bob, that idea is not going to work, but like, thanks for trying. So like women have been trained No, we need to be really careful with our words because we’re going to be seen as inferior. We don’t. So, yeah, there’s and that’s just one I don’t mean to pick on Seth Godin, but that like things like, you know, the advice from I think is the 90s or 2000s around like having your elevator pitch or your sales pitch, which is like supposedly the if you’re in an elevator with an executive, like what you would say. Some of that I think still holds true, but it’s like, well, how to do it in a way that will be well received. if you’re a woman compared to if you’re a man, because we tend to tolerate a dude getting on the elevator and be like, hey, I’m launching a company and I’m looking for the best people, and I’m going to take it to $50 million in the next six months. Join me. And we’re just like, all right, well, he’s a little conceited, but whatever. If a woman did that, we wouldn’t even like, we would laugh and just get off the elevator. So it’s advice. Yeah, it’s like listening to any advice on management and leadership. And frankly, reading the original article, if you can get your hands on it and find out, did they conduct the research on men or women? Did they pull out the results? Do they have recommendations on how men should use it versus how women? Because I’d say most of the advice we’ve gotten works for men and either doesn’t work for women or can actively harm women’s careers. So I hate to make it feel more complicated. But yeah, the message is basically, don’t read the latest Harvard Business Review article.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: And I brought up an article to Anthea and said, I don’t know what do you think about this and the articles are recent publication November 2023. And it is on self-promotion, how to self-promote. And what they basically found after looking at, it’s like, they looked at 11 studies and then interviewed or reviewed 2,500 different people’s communication. And they found that when someone self-promoted, they were, more impactful, it was more positively viewed when they did dual promotion versus solo promotion. So I could say, hey, I completed the project beyond expectations in a shorter timeframe and doubled revenue, right? Or I could say, Anthea helped me in communication and she rocked it and I led the strategy and together we blew the goal out of the water. And what the article is saying is that that dual promotion is more effective. But it really was great. Anthea was like, well, did they talk about genders? They have a large sample size, but are they all men or mostly men? Is it skewed? How do we know that that’s not actually a harmful approach for women? Because the article didn’t address it and didn’t discuss the actual samples. It does make it harder to know.

Anthea Rowe: It does. And it so what it probably does is a few things. And the sociolinguist Deborah Tannen, who did a lot of work in the 80s, 90s, examining communication styles, she referred to what it probably did is reaffirm what she describes as Gendered communication styles and which for women and girls tend to be collaborative and for men tend to be competitive. And so the collaborative is like we do things together and we support each other right and we don’t position ourselves as more successful than each other. So that dual promotion of like, Anthea did a great job on the communications and I led the strategy, that reaffirms. So it probably, my guess would be that that research would show that talking that way, dual promotion, would reaffirm people being like, cool, Crystal abides by gender norms. She’s being collaborative in talking about her peer, whether the peer is a man or a woman. And then it’s stepping into a little bit competitive by at least your claiming ownership of an accomplishment. So you’re doing a bit of both, whereas men can generally. own being competitive. Think about boys on the playground. Again, not to be super essentialist, but if anyone who has kids, they know that little boys are just like, I can throw the ball further than you, and I can climb higher, and I’m faster. Little girls are like, oh, I didn’t do very well on the math test, as she’s looking at a 97 out of 100. And her friend is like, yeah, me either. It’s like you try to be the same, not better. So my guess would be that that works really well for men because research shows that, you know, again, men are perceived as more competent. And when men are modest, it actually increases their likability because people are like, oh, I assumed you were competent and now you’re being modest about it. So you must be like an incredible person. Then the same research finds that when women are modest, they people take them at face value and are like, oh, you must have done kind of a subpar job. So I suspected this would like I wouldn’t I wouldn’t recommend this to my clients. Because again, people will tend to lock on to the other person. And, you know, we tend to women tend to want to include the whole team and be like, well, of course, I didn’t do it all on my own. So I want to include the other team. I think there’s a place for that. But I would actually recommend experimenting with doing that dual promotion secondary. So like the company was you know, trying to break into the US textbook market. And I, you know, I led the expansion and generating, you know, impact in eight cities across the Midwest. And Crystal really contributed by doing a stellar job recruiting key roles in those markets. Like, putting yourself first is what I would recommend to clients, but then maybe showing your collaborative second. Otherwise, people will tune out. So yeah, it would be interesting to actually see, like, who this was done on.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: Yeah. Study on women. Ah, yeah, yeah, sure. So is there a formula? I mean, is there something simple?

Anthea Rowe: There is. Yeah. So I’d say there’s kind of two frameworks to use. The first is just to help you even wrap your head around self-promotion, because it’s so loathsome to so many women and many men, which is, can you analyze the reasons why you dislike it? And for most people, it’s because they know someone who brags about themselves and it’s unsubstantiated. And they’re determined not to be that person. It’s also tied up usually in ideals of modesty. And modesty is a distinctly feminine virtue that women are usually expected to uphold. So the first step is like, analyze, why do I dislike self-promotion? Why am I so uncomfortable? And then accept the reality of the workplace, which is your hard work won’t be promoted. Your hard work won’t be recognized just on its own. You do have to do something about it. And then like the third step in this getting ready is ask yourself if you can redefine the definition of self-promotion. So most of my clients, and I wonder if this is true of your listeners, associate self-promotion with shameless, right? Shameless self-promotion, it’s bragging, it’s talking about yourself in a way that’s unfounded, that’s uninvited, right? It doesn’t have to be. Self-promotion can be the objective articulation of real accomplishments that are backed up by evidence. So once you’ve figured out why you’re uncomfortable, accepted that to be successful in your career, you’re going to need to figure out how to do it. And they redefined it. Then the formula I use is the CAR formula. It’s similar to what you’d use in like a job interview, which is the challenge, C, challenge, A, action, and our result. And that is, what was the challenge the company was facing? So the company was trying to expand from a mid-market telecom to one of the top three players in the nation. OK, what was the action you took? You’re a marketer and you ran guerrilla marketing campaigns that built brand awareness in seven key markets. OK, and then the result was the company’s sales grew. 50% and you establish market share in your target markets. What you notice in that CAR formula, that Challenge Action Result, and I did not come up with that, it exists out there, is most of that is actually about the company. And like we mentioned this earlier, it’s not about you. So the formula is really like, what was the business problem to be solved? What actions did I take to solve it? And what result did it create for the company? When you talk like that, not only like you said, I leaned in because I was like, ooh, what was the impact? People can relate. So there’s a few things that happen. People relate because they go like, oh, is that a problem that I have or my company might have? Interesting. OK, it sounds like she knows how to solve it. The second thing is you’re talking about business. You’re affirming your business acumen. The third thing is you’re not initially talking about yourself. Right. It’s about the company. So that removes so much of the like, I don’t want to talk about myself because the gross part would be saying I’m an expert in, you know, increasing market share. I’m an expert in because that’s like unfounded and it’s out of context and it feels gross. But saying Company X had this market challenge, I led a campaign that did ABC. and the company, like that’s objective. They can’t argue it. It’s proof, right? So that challenge, action, result, which, like I said, again, I didn’t invent it, but we don’t instinctively do it. We’ll do it for like preparing for an interview. But I encourage people to do it all the time, even as you get on a new project. Think to yourself, what’s the business challenge and what’s the result I want to be able to articulate by the end of it? And then all the stuff that you do. I mean, the whole project that you do is buried in that one little middle section of the actions you take. But then the result is what you want to be able to own.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: So does that help? That helps so much. I love that. I absolutely love that. I’m even thinking of one of my clients who’s the president of an organization. And the board that she reports to is all male. And how using this type of formula can help her when she is setting the ground before requesting changes, appealing to them for her agenda for a certain project or for the next year, even in getting buy-in when she’s facilitating something in their retreats. I just think that’s great to center it on, here’s what I’ve done in a way where it can be heard. before we go in to the other parts of our roles.

Anthea Rowe: Yeah, exactly. There’s a real element of, frankly, inviting people in to your business expertise before you tell them that you are an expert. And I think of an example from my own career, which was a mistake that I would go back and fix if I could. Which was I was the head of communications for a fast growing tech company and I saw the need for like an intranet. We didn’t have what we’ve been making do with you know whatever file sharing and internal stuff and I said. I recommend, and I just took it as a given that they knew I understood the business, and so that any recommendation I made would be in service of the business. I mean, it turned out they didn’t. So I put together this proposal. I was like, here’s why I recommend the internet, an intranet. And they just couldn’t even, like they were focused on a supply chain issue and other things were going on. If I could do it over again, I would say, hey, We have, we’re trying to expand into EMEA, like Europe and the Middle East. We have a product development, we have a product marketing team that has researched all the compliance issues and opportunities and regulations. That information is not getting to the product development team. This is a symptom of a bigger problem about us lacking systems for communication. I recommend that to address a challenge like this and to prevent future ones, we implement an intranet that connects teams around shared issues to support our company’s growth into critical markets. I would do that if I could, right? I just thought they knew, like, if it knows what we’re trying to achieve, I just didn’t make it explicit. So that’s the maddening thing, even, and I bet your client’s even at every level. Yeah, so you’re a client who, if she’s trying to convince the board of something, it may seem unnecessary, but I bet she’ll get faster buy-in if she starts off with, OK, so one of our priorities is X. In order to do so, I recommend that we ABC in order to realize our outcome. It’s almost like you have to give them some time for their brain to go, OK, yeah, we are talking about business. It’s not just her randomly, I don’t know, coming up with ideas apropos. Nothing. I don’t know. I don’t know how the brain process works.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: Yes. I think that’s great. And you kind of already mentioned one thing, but I want to make sure we’re putting it out in black and white, that the listeners are not walking away, not hearing this so clearly. Ahem. You had already said that when women kind of downplay something, that they’re taken at that face value. So I would love to hear what you have to say about self-deprecation. I’m from the South. And at least in my rural Southern community, women saying, oh, no, when they get a compliment, like refusing to accept it, refusing to take credit, is really kind of like an interesting social practice. that I grew up with. And I now when I see it, I’m like allergic to it. No, don’t do that. So So anyways, I would love to hear your thoughts on that. And just make sure the listeners are really clearly hearing how that can negatively impact them. It’s not cute.

Anthea Rowe: No, self deprecation is dangerous. Like full stop. Yeah, full stop. I love that. Yeah, self-deprecation in the context of work outcomes is never helpful. So it can play a really helpful role, say you’re trying to build a client relationship and you’re doing that kind of forming and getting to know each other. Sure, self-deprecation may be around like parenting or around fashion or something that is inconsequential to your credibility in the work environment, right? Self-deprecation related to your work, never okay.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: Yeah, I love that. That makes sense. I think the reason women do it might be to seem more approachable, you know, to seem less threatening. However, it completely undermines competence.

Anthea Rowe: Yeah, absolutely. That’s why they do it. We do it. And I’ll admit, I absolutely have. It’s, yeah, to be less threatening, to be, like you said, the double bind of, you know, you want to be seen as both credible or a leader and likable. And you’re more likable when you’re non-threatening. Right. But. Honestly, you’re right, it’s just something that like. You need to be allergic to now, so you said that in the context of compliments, and I remember a leader who I really respect. telling me when I was, I think, mid to late 20s, Anthea, it’s a compliment. You need to just accept it. And I took that lesson around just accepting compliments. Now I feel like this is the point, too, for us and your listeners and clients to take the message. Self-deprecation, downplaying your abilities, just never do it. And there’s not even a, I don’t even have, I think it’s like a cold turkey. I don’t think there’s a way that you wean yourself off. It’s like, you have to just start noticing. I think the key, like any behavior change, the first step is noticing, right? So even just noticing, and I always use the hairdresser as an example because it’s such a like, that’s a person you interact with regularly. They don’t know much about your work. And so you can notice like the next time you chat with your stylist, do I, if they say like, oh, it sounds like you’re really rocking it at work, is your response like, oh, you know, I do what I can, like notice that and then be like, wait a minute, this is my opportunity with someone where the stakes are very low to say like, you’re right, I’ve been working really hard and I’m doing things that matter. So even I think the hardest thing is to just first notice, do I often deflect? recognition and then do I feel resentful later? So that’s a fascinating thing. Then do I resent feel feel resentful later that people don’t recognize how incredible I am?

Dr. Crystal Frazee: There’s some duality there, right? If I’m not accepting recognition. Yeah, can’t be frustrated that I’m not being recognized, even if it’s with another relationship. It’s. Yeah, that’s like karma stuff right there.

Anthea Rowe: Yeah, it’s like people giving you compliments on your outfits and saying, oh, you always look so great. And you’d be like, no, I don’t. I just threw this together. Oh, it was my mother’s, or I found it in the back of a closet. And then being mad later that people don’t refer to you as a fashion leader, right? You’ve been actively dissuading them.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: Yes, yes, absolutely. And I see that a lot around compliments, no matter how subtle. that is really different in at least the men in my life. And so maybe it’s a second for the listener just to think about that. How do they relate to receiving praise and validation and acknowledgement in and out of the workplace? And how can you create some resilience in managing your nervous system going, oh, the light’s shining on me and I don’t know how to respond? to breathe, to ground in your body, and then to use some of the examples that Anthea has given you to move through that. And I also love the little micro change that you pointed out. Taking, I always say when you’re implementing a change, the lowest stakes one, the one that you know you can succeed at, because winning with the hairstylist helps you the next time it’s with a colleague. And you’re like building a muscle. The communication muscle is what this series is about. and being prepared for something. Because you know, when you go to the hairstylist, they’re going to say, so how have you been? So what’s been going on, right? And you can be primed and just experiment and experience something different. And then be prepared to then move to that next stakes situation and be ready to also self-promote without that ick factor and enjoy being in the spotlight when you can.

Anthea Rowe: Exactly. Yeah. So exactly like you said, when someone says, how’s it going, like your stylist, just hear in your head, What have you accomplished lately? Right. And so when you’re you sit down on the chair and your style says, how’s it going? Instead of like, oh, things are really busy at work. And, you know, the kids have a lot of, you know, sports. You could say, I’m really excited. I’m leading a 15 million dollar capital campaign for my nonprofit. And we’re on track to, you know, for the fundraising goal and for the building construction. And I’m really proud of it. Like, Just starting to say that and then saying it to that or something equivalent to, you know, a parent at a school pickup, you know, in the parking lot or, and it may seem strange at first, but it’s actually not like people are happy for you. And then you’ve given them something really, actually tangible. to react to and they can go, oh, I know a bit more about you. And right. You’ve really made it much more concrete and give them more to remember you by than just like, oh, things are busy or I’m really tired or it’s a stressful time of year. Right. That’s abstract. And they kind of move on. So then, like you said, it’s the muscle you’ve started flexing it and then you’re just using it more in the boardroom. leading your team, interacting with clients becomes second nature.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: And when you get that compliment, if nothing else, just saying, yeah, thank you. Thanks for noticing. And just stop talking and don’t push it away at the very least.

Anthea Rowe: Absolutely. Thanks so much. I worked really hard for it. I cared a lot about it. Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: Well, is there anything else you want to leave the listeners with before we sign off? I’ve so enjoyed talking to you about how women can self promote so that they have more impact and that the work that they’re doing gets noticed.

Anthea Rowe: I think the one thing I would love to leave your listeners with is to think about the weight that you put on other people’s opinions of you. So we’ve been talking this whole time about self-promotion. And the goal is for people to perceive you as competent and effective at work so that you’ll get, you know, praised, promoted, that kind of thing. And your value as a human does not depend on your value at work. So this is the kind of, it’s not really contradiction, but I’m holding both hands. So this is something that we have to hold, which is women tend to be socialized to value praise. And so starting from young children, we tend to tell girls, either whether it’s how they look or what they did or how they did a good job, but like to feel good when they get praise. The corollary of that is that when we don’t get it or when we get criticism, we may feel unworthy, right? So I think the ultimate power move in self-promotion is being able to objectively talk about the value you create for companies, and then frankly not take it personally if people see it or don’t see it, and not take it as meaning anything about you as a human. Because really, I mean, we all, I think, want to work for more human workplaces. We all want to feel we spend so much time at work, we want to feel good about ourselves and about the impact we create. So I think if I could share anything, it’s that it’s, you know, use your objective mind to articulate the value you create. But don’t let that mean anything about your value as a person.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: I think that is a perfect ending idea, and I love it. That is so on point with attuned leadership that you, the listener, are already whole, already complete, and don’t need anything more. You don’t have to prove anything else to be that. You’re not earning it. It’s already given. And so I really appreciate that. And it kind of eases resistance that someone may be feeling to actually trying this, because we’re going to be a little bit unattached.

Anthea Rowe: Yeah. Easy to say, super hard to do. Yeah. Um, the more you try it. Yeah. The, the more you can actually experiment with and the fascinating thing that happens is as you detach your personal worth from the value you’re perceived as having created at work, you actually don’t get those hives as much. So what I see from my clients is like, they come to me saying I’m undervalued, you know, I’m, overworked, undervalued, and they want to be recognized. They want praise. They’re craving it. And then I consider it my greatest success. Like, yeah, they get new jobs or raises or whatever. But when they’re like, I feel really great about my work, you know, and yeah, my boss is praising me, but I don’t actually get that like adrenaline rush when I get like, I’m not chasing it. not reliant on it. Yeah, I’m creating the outcomes and I’m getting the recognition, but I actually don’t depend on it to feel okay with myself. That’s a huge transition that I would wish for any of your listeners and for women.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: Absolutely. Well, where would you like people to go if they want to learn more about your work or connect in any way?

Anthea Rowe: Yeah, so people are welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m just Anthea Rowe. And my, or check out my website, which is exemplify, E-X-M-P-L-I-F-Y dot com.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: Great. Thank you so much. I appreciate all of your wisdom that you’ve shared. And I know the listeners will too.

Anthea Rowe: Thanks so much. It was a great conversation. The time just flew.

Dr. Crystal Frazee: You sure did. Okay, before we sign off, I want to let you know that I’m hosting a free Executive Roundtable virtual event for 10 women leaders who want to both elevate how their employees communicate and address their specific challenges when it comes to getting buy-in for their ideas. This event is going to be Tuesday, March 26. from nine to 1030 Eastern Time, and there’s no fancy signup page. There’s 10 seats, and when they’re filled, they’re filled. So if you are in upper leadership, managing a team, and would like to participate in the round table and claim a seat, just message me at crystal(at) if you want to participate. And if it’s a fit, I’m gonna send you a calendar invite, and that’s it. Easy peasy.

Thanks so much for listening to Attune Leadership for Women. I am so honored to be in your earbuds and to be able to share my ideas and the wisdom from my expert guests. I write, record, edit, and publish the podcast myself to reach women leaders that are looking beyond just career success and want less stress and deeper life satisfaction as well. Don’t forget, you can get the transcript, show notes, and links to free resources for each show at And if you haven’t yet, rating and reviewing the show on Apple podcast or sharing the show with a friend or colleague is gonna help me reach that mission. So take one minute after the show and do one of those two things, rate and review, or forward this to a friend who needs to learn some of these amazing communication skills. Have a great week ahead. Be well and stay attuned. Bye.