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The Secret to Building Fierce Loyalty? Be Human [Day 6- 28 BFL]


This is Day 6 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty (We take the weekends off during these series to play catchup). Friday, The always brilliant Danny Brown offered us a brutally honest post where he also cussed and talked about dog poo. 🙂  Today, one of my very favorite in the whole world, Shelly Kramer, takes us out on a limb so we can build Fierce Loyalty. 

The Secret to Building Fierce Loyalty? Be Human

By: Shelly Kramer| @ShellyKramer

When Sarah asked me to be a contributor to her Building Fierce Loyalty Series it seemed like a no-brainer. I mean, loyalty. That’s a snap, right? Building it isn’t all that difficult. Or is it?  Upon reflection, I realized that building loyalty is hard. And scary and intimidating. Who was I kidding?

So here’s what I think about building loyalty. As an initial step, in order to garner loyalty, one must first do something. Make friends, reach out a hand, show up at an event, say something out loud, write something, publish something, share something, create something, or maybe even stand up and be brave enough to share a thought or an opinion. You’re getting my drift. These things – I call them stepping out on a limb.

For some people, stepping out on a limb can be very intimidating. That limb usually looks thin, shaky and–most of all–lonely as hell. That limb is a metaphor for so  many things. It can be a party you’re invited to where you know no one. It can be writing – and then publishing – your first blog post. It can be going on a blind date. It can be day one at a new job. Or it can be venturing into an unknown that is the social media space.

It will come as no surprise that I’ve stepped out on that limb many times. But no matter how confident I might seem, I’m really somewhat of an introvert. Quit laughing. I really am. And even I have to regularly grit my teeth and force myself to do things that I don’t love doing. I remember a number of years ago when I was working on getting the courage to blog, and one curmudgeonly friend used to regularly ping me and ask where I was in that process. I kept waffling, procrastinating, coming up with a million excuses why I was to busy to launch that blog. In reality, I was afraid of the limb. I’m a decent writer – and I know that. And I have a brain that works pretty well, too. But the limb that represented blogging, and putting my thoughts and words and ideas out there … that was frightening. But I did it. And once I did, it was no big deal. And amazing how intimidating that had once seemed. Sound familiar?

That’s just one example, but the thing that makes all of it … all those journeys that we respectively manage to make out onto all those limbs … worthwhile, well that’s pretty simple, too. The rewards, at least in my experience, are too many to name. But some of the biggies include things like friendship, respect, camaraderie, kinship. And most of all, loyalty. And, if you’re really lucky, fierce loyalty.

So what’s the magic potion? How is it that you can live your life, do what it is you do best, or what it is you love, or what it is you’re most passionate about – and inspire fierce loyalty? For me, the answer is clear – it’s all about being human.

I’m not a big God Squadder (not, of course that there’s anything wrong with that), but I was sitting in Mass last week and listening to the homily and the words of our priest struck me such that I grabbed my phone (ignoring the frown on my husband’s face) and jotted down a note.

His message was a very simple one. A life driven by humility is the path to happiness. A life driven by ego opens the door to evil. I’m a huge fan of humility and it’s no surprise that this particular bit of scripture resonated with me. Think for a moment of all the people who have been fueled by ginormous egos and ultimately felled by them. The list is as long as any one of our arms, isn’t it?

Make no mistake – this post isn’t about religion – that was just an aside to emphasize a point. For me, however, humility is the answer – especially when it comes to loyalty. Inspiring fierce loyalty is all about being human – and being humble. Being prideful and ego driven are easy temptations, especially when success is in the picture. But being prideful and self-absorbed and constantly amazed by your own greatness–those aren’t the character traits that inspire fierce loyalty. At least not in my book.

Conversely, people who are humble are people I want to revere. Not because they ask for it, or expect it, but because they earn it. They deserve it. Want some examples of people who inspire great loyalty? What about Mother Teresa or Gandhi. Or Meryl Streep. Or humble athletes like Tim Tebow, Hank Aaron or Steve Nash. While thinking about this post, I did a bit of research and discovered the book “Start with Humility: Lessons from Quiet CEOs on How to Build Trust and Inspire Followers” featuring case studies of CEOs like Starbucks’ Howard Schulz, Pepsi Cola’s Craig Weatherup, and Sara Lee’s Brenda Barnes, to name a few.

Clearly, I’m not the only one who thinks humility is an integral part of the road to success. Whether as a CEO, an athlete, a celebrity, a coach, a business owner, a manager of any kind, a blogger … well, pretty much you name it, humility is, in many cases, better than pride and egoism.

And you know what I love about humility so much? It’s about people. Humility is all about being human. Recognizing that we’re all just people, and we all put our pants on one leg at a time. We all have moments of insecurities and we all make mistakes. And when we have great successes or moments of brilliance they rarely happen because of us and us alone. Remembering that is, to my way of thinking, a formula to build fierce loyalty.

So, whether you’re wondering as an individual, a CEO, a manager, a coach, a parent, etc., how it is that you can inspire fierce loyalty, my suggestion is that it starts with being human – and practicing humility. Being grateful for the gifts you’re given, for opportunities or kindnesses, being grateful and appreciative of the time and talents of others, being grateful for the time people take out of their lives to read or share something you’ve written or created, comment on something you’ve said, etc., is a good start.  And no matter what, just focus on being human.

I’ll even go out on the limb and predict you’ll find that once you get on the humble train, you’ll find it is a far better ride, with far better company along the way, than the MeMeMe Express that so many others choose to ride.

What about you? Am I totally off base here or does humility resonate with you as much as it resonates with me? Is it part of your formula for building fierce loyalty? I’d love to know what you think.

Shelly Kramer is the Founder and CEO of V3 Integrated Marketing. A 20+ year marketing veteran, she’s a strategist, brand storyteller, digital marketing pro, content marketing expert, speaker and corporate trainer – she’s and a well regarded figure in the worlds of tech and social media. Recently recognized by Forbes as one of the Top 50 Social Media Influencers, she’s half marketer, half geek, with a propensity for numbers, producing results and a dash of quick repartee. Her client experience includes working with startups and not-for-profits, as well as Fortune 500 companies and agencies of all sizes, budgets teeny to gigantic, in both B2B and B2C markets.


P.S. If you aren’t already signed up and don’t want to miss out on  28 Days to Building Fierce Loyalty, please sign up here.

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  • Ah, this one is sometimes a struggle for me. 

    I tell people all the time, “I don’t think I’m better than anyone else, I just know I’m awesome!” Which is true. The reason behind saying so is moreso due to overcoming past self-image issues (I now have what I like to call a very healthy self-image). I think a lot of times people think we have to put ourselves down in order to be humble and put others first, and I simply don’t believe that is true.

    Rabbit trail aside, humility is definitely important and you hit the nail on the head when you said it’s all about being human!

    • Anonymous

      I don’t believe in putting yourself down in order to be humble, Sherrie. Not at all. And I think it’s great being awesome. I’m awesome, too. But part of the reason I’m awesome (at least when it comes to what I do for a living) is because I’m surrounded by really smart people, a talented team and have great clients. Together, we make awesomeness happen.

      Thanks for coming by …. love hearing your thoughts!

      • Oh without a doubt — I give credit to the awesomeness around me all the time. 🙂

      • On another diversion, I love the whole thought to just getting out there on that limb. I think we often forget that courage is not the absence of fear, it’s just choosing to face your fears. Never have I ever overcome a fear but letting it be the boss and staying in inaction.

        • Anonymous

          EXACT-A-MUNDO!!!! Love how you’ve said that … and it’s so true. The other thing I’ve found …. the company, once you get out there on the limb, well, it’s usually pretty doggone amazing!

          • Right? Those are some of my best friends and closest confidants. 🙂

        • So true, Sherrie! Conquering that limb and overcoming the fear of taking action will certainly help with loyalty-building!

      • Acknowledging how the people around us help us to be awesome is so crucial, I think. Part of being human is needing a support network- part of the reason we want to build communities and fierce loyalty in the first place! It also helps me to know who it’s most beneficial for me to spend time around, if I consider which conversations make me feel the most sparkling and awesome. (Those same conversations encourage humility as well, which I find interesting, because they’re always conversations with folks who’ll tell me when I’m messing up and give me new things to consider.)

        • Anonymous

          You’re right! I so value those friendships … especially the ones who can always be counted on to tell me when I’m messing up!

        • Acknowledging our support network would definitely be a big step towards humility.

    • Sherrie, I love this! And I have to share one of my most favorite blog posts of all time including one of my favorite images which I have printed out and posted on the cork board next to my desk in my cube.

      • Aw, I love it! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      •  Shannon,
         That blog post is awesome!  It made me smile and it’s definitely important to remember that we can’t let people or circumstances make us be anything else than our awesome selves.  This is probably why I wear my awesome Agent P knit hat with pride (I absolutely love the show Phineas and Ferb and I’m not afraid to admit it)!  I may get some weird looks, but I’ve had complete strangers come up to me and tell me that they think my hat is awesome!  Lots of smiles all around!

  • I struggle with humility. Not because it’s not a value I hold, but because it seems like I suffer from a kind of humility syndrome. For example, one woman I know touts herself as an ‘expert in serial fiction’ (my genre) because she’s been ‘writing one of the longest serials.’ She speaks regularly on the topic and is often asked to guest post. I’ve written a serial fiction for 4 years and I happen to know the longest serial was the Diary of V at Redbook. 

    In the end, I think I get over looked because of my focus on humility. I’m also told by every marketing pro I’ve hired, PR folks, etc.

    In April, my 10th published book will be released. They are popular books. People love them and get addicted to the series. When do I toot my own horn? Or back away due to my emphasis on humility.

    P.S. I wish Tim Tebow would learn how to play better – maybe learn how to complete or even throw a decent pass or two. But that’s just me.

    • Anonymous

      I totally get what you’re saying, Claudia. And there is most definitely such a think as letting humility get in your way. I’m a big believer in raising your hand, often and standing up and saying “I can do this” or “I’m really good at that, you should check it out,” and think that that’s an integral part of success. And many times women do NOT do this often enough (including me – so I kick myself regularly as a reminder). Sometimes it’s cringe-inducing, but when it really  matters — like when you have a book coming out, you really need to turn into a salesperson … and drive awareness. That doesn’t mean you can’t be humble … but it does mean that sometimes you have to let the quiet part of you stay home and turn into someone else – just for a little bit. I’ll also recommend Lisa Petrilli’s book to you — it’s linked above when I mention introverts. And I think that might be something that you’ll find helpful.

      I also think that building fierce loyalty is what helps make the process of tooting your own horn easier. Reaching out to your base of friends when you have something like a new book coming out or something else special and asking for their help in spreading the word/promoting, etc., can make a huge impact.

      And that’s where all the work you did in the beginning – being a good friend, acting human, sharing, caring, doing for others, etc., can pay off.

      • That’s a good point Shelly: reaching out to your base of friends… because they’re an extension of your family, both groups who should naturally support you.  And these 2 groups may be an easier place to start to learn to toot your own horn.  You’re already comfortable with them so it can be like Horn-Tooting Practice.

        • Anonymous

          And we all need that, don’t we? That “horn-tooting practice?” Well, at least many of us do 🙂

        • Anonymous

          Toot toot!  I think we can all use more horn-tooting practice…

          Must put that on my to-do list.

          Thank you Claudia for being so honest & putting out your overabundance of humility.  I have many days where I feel exactly the same.

    • I can really see your point, Claudia. We know we need to stand up and toot our own horns but trying to find a good balance can be tough, especially when we’re competing with others who aren’t playing fair. AND if humility is a natural part of our personality in the first place!

  • Val (@kaicongroup)

    Shelly Thanks for this post. Inspired ot know I am on the right track.  I am going to also pick up the book that you referenced for personal development purposes.

    • Anonymous

      You’re welcome! Also, read Lisa Petrilli’s book (linked in the post) about The Introvert’s Guide to Success. It is FANTASTIC!

  • Lizbeth Hamlin

    I love this post and do my best to live by it…I take a stance that everyone that I encounter is wiser, knows more, has something to teach me and it keeps my ego in check.  One thing I do if I am out of balance and my ego has taken a front seat…I spend the day making sure I pass no one….walking down the street, sitting in a conference ( I sit in the back), in bank line I give anyone first place in line…you get the idea….it helps me remember about humility…try it, it works.

    • Anonymous

      Love that exercise, Lizbeth. Such a great idea. The other thing that I do is to spend a day looking people in the eye, starting conversations with random strangers, opening doors and doing little things that sometimes we get so absorbed in ourselves that we forget to do. I find that brings me right back down to Earth …. and helps me remember that I’m not such a big deal. Not, of course, that anyone but my 6 yo twins really think that. And my days are numbered there, too!

  • Out on a limb, it’s where the fruit is! Thanks for a lovely and honest meditation on going beyond our comfort zone and showing up, fully human. Beautiful post Shelly!

    • Anonymous

      It IS where the fruit is! And as I mentioned earlier, the company there is really quite grand. Thanks for the kind words, Marjory!

  • Hi Shelly!

    My fav line of your post: it’s all about being human.

    Whenever I see/hear the media/people gang up on someone for saying something that might offend someone somewhere on the planet, it makes me cringe. A human without frailties is not a human, it’s some kind of cyborg. Can we give folks a break?

    I try to meld humility and boldness together. I can be out there championing for creativity but do it in a way that benefits all of us.  Do I sometimes get full of myself? Sure. I’m human. That’s when I do a humility-check.

    Good article … G.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Guilietta. I’m with you … always working toward the perfect combination of humility and boldness. Which I think is the key to success. So glad you enjoyed!

  • Thanks so much Shelly. Both of your messages speak loudly to me today. Stepping out on a limb and being human. I think it’s true that people connect to our vulnerability. It’s why we always route for the underdog in movies and sports. As one like Sherrie, who has struggled with self image and went through school not being one of the “popular girls”, it’s difficult to be vulnerable. Being human, and being real, I think are unusual these days, and makes people sit  up and take notice.

    • I think one of the keys that makes being vulnerable less of a struggle is working with people who are understanding of what it takes to “go out on a limb” and appreciate your humanity. If you can find this “right community” they are willing to go out on the limb with you and forgive if things don’t go perfect.

      My favorite clients are willing to take risks and deal with the consequences of those risks with a smile. When I know they are in that head space, then I am willing to go further out on the limb, and I do better work which we all benefit and grow from.

      Maybe a hesitancy to be vulnerable and human is a sign that the person or community isn’t quite the right fit? I will have to reflect on that.


      • Anonymous

        You’re quite right, Jeremie. I, too, have those same kinds of clients and they are wonderful to work with. I find that life is all about taking risks, experimenting … sometimes succeeding and sometimes not. But being willing to risk and try often makes all the difference when it comes to success. And yes, finding that right community is a very big deal. And in my experience, those are seeds you must sow, in advance, before you really need them. For many, that is one small detail often overlooked.

    • Anonymous

      I totally get your point, Shannon. Trust me, I was not the popular girl, either … and I think that’s also what helps me keep my feet on the ground. Funny thing, for  a lot of those popular (and not so nice) girls … things didn’t work out so well. Being unpopular, and human, has its rewards :))

  • Anonymous

    I love getting here and discovering the electric conversations that are already taking place whether I am here or not. That is one of the very best parts of these series. 🙂

    I’ll just keep the lights turned on and ya’ll let me know if you need Cokes or anything, okay?!

    • How about an energy drink? I’m low on caffeine today. 😉

    • Don’t forget the jelly beans!

      • Anonymous

        Red Bull and Jelly Bellys. Got it. Anything else?!

        • LOL Jelly Belly’s I’m all set!

        • Anonymous

          Coffee. Strong coffee.

          And beanbag chairs.

    • Anonymous


  • I’m struck with two clear and profound experiences at once as I read this, Shelley. Thanks for opening up my already on-the-edge sense of this thing we’re calling Fierce Loyalty another notch. I’m struck by the artwork and find it just too crazy that I have a similar art piece entitled, of course, “Out on a Limb” (‘tho mine’s in oil and in color) hanging in my workspace. I’m struck by the intersection of going out on a limb and humility what you’re calling “being human.” There’s something frightening about this crossroads. Something edgy and raw. Showing up, pushing past fear, climbing out on a limb, each time with awesomeness intact and humility pouring forth. Just taking it in… thank you.

    • Anonymous

      I love edgy and raw, Lydia. And clearly, you do, too. And I also really like pushing myself past boundaries and learning along the way, as well as never taking myself too seriously. So glad you enjoyed the post!!

    • Just by climbing out on that limb shows our human side. A willingness to take a risk – to put ourselves out there is very humbling. Good call, Lydia!

  • I’m not sure how I feel about humility.  I usually stay quiet when I’ve accomplished a goal because I don’t want to seem too prideful or ego driven.  It’s not like I’m not proud of the things I’ve accomplished, I just don’t want to be the person who boasts about their successes.  Perhaps I also stay quiet because I’m the second oldest of five children and because of the family dynamic, I just assume no one would be interested in hearing about my accomplishments.  I’m going to have to think about this some more, but I feel I should find a balance between being proud and being humble. 

    Thanks for the thought provoking post! 

    • Anonymous

      You should find a difference, Shana. There’s a difference between boasting about successes and being confident and sharing them. And it’s easy to be overlooked if you choose to be the quiet one standing in the corner. I think you’d be amazed at the people who would love to hear about your accomplishments … and once you start putting them out there, I’d love to hear what you discover.

      There really IS a nice balance … and you’ll find it – if you look for it.

  • Do you think people sometimes misinterpret the real meaning of humility?  According to, it means “modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.”  This is a great definition and one I think you explain very well Shelly. 

    Also according to, the synonyms are “lowliness, meekness, submissiveness. ”  I wonder if these are the words that pop in a person’s mind when thinking about “humility”.  I don’t believe having a modest opinion of one’s importance is similar to lowliness or meekness. But maybe that’s just me.

    Anyway, we are human, and we are hard-wired to be with others. And who are the people that are the most fun to be around? For me, it’s those who are funny, kind and goofy and who want to include others. In whatever they are doing.

    So, in this unintentionally long-winded response, I totally agree with you Shelly. People just want to connect with other people. And you have to be human to qualify.

    Thanks for a great post, and May The Snark Be With You.

    • I love this. I turn to the dictionary all the time for words I’ve heard too many times. Sometimes it’s just good to get back to the basic definition rather than everything else we’ve falsely attributed to it.

    •  you know, it’s funny – I SO loved your comment “And who are the people that are the most fun to be around? For me,
      it’s those who are funny, kind and goofy and who want to include others.
      In whatever they are doing.” and it weirdly made me think of a completely silly and funny movie I had on in the background over the weekend while I was sorting, organizing and pricing all my retired product (Oh yes, it was JUST as exciting as it sounds). I think it was called “All About Steve” or something like that. It had Sandra Bullock, the guy that played Lowell from Wings and the guy from “The Hangover”. Sandra Bullock played this girl that had really no friends, no love life, lived with her parents, and kind of drove other people a little crazy with her eccentricities. But then she found the right people, who LOVED her exactly how she is and LOVED her goofyness. – also makes me think of Jeremie’s comments about the right community.
      We have to find the place where our goofyness is appreciated ;D

      • Anonymous

        I loved that movie!

      • Exactly Shannon…we have to find the place where our goofyness is appreciated.  I guess that would be our tribe, right Sarah?

    • Anonymous

      LOL. Those synonyms are reDONKulous!!! Like you, funny, goofy, smart, snarky, inclusive and just all around fun to be around are the things that draw me to someone. Chest-beating … not so much.

      Glad you enjoyed … and I quite enjoy your long-windedness. It suits you :))

  • This is so timely for me from a parenting perspective! My son is turning 16 next month and I’ve always walked the thin line between “because I said so” and allowing him to find his own edges. That thin line has felt more and more like a thin, brittle limb that’s going to break as we continue this journey through his teenage years.

    Some of his challenges right now include learning the difference between pride and arrogance and confidence; recognizing (and accepting) that he doesn’t know everything and still has a lot to learn (and hopefully will for the rest of his life!); and that nobody’s perfect, including his parents. I’m thankful for the times when I remember to be human with him and let him see me make mistakes that he will (hopefully) learn from.

    And I’m grateful for the reminder for me to practice humility and being human every day. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      So glad you enjoyed, Dana. And as a parent who has already made it through the teen years and is now working on one set of “kids” who are in their late 20s and early 30s, trust me, that journey will continue. For many years to come. 

      Kids are so egocentric, and it’s so often difficult to get them to see anyone’s side of a story/situation, etc., than their own … often causes me to pull my hair out, I assure you.

      I do, however, think that regularly showing your kids that parents are human, too .. and that we make mistakes, decisions that don’t always come out the way we’d hoped, and missteps along the way all help them with their own journeys. It truly wasn’t until I had children of my own who were half grown that I realized how human my own parents were. And what a great job they managed to do, in spite of themselves – and me!

      So glad to hear you enjoyed the post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Anonymous

      Dana, you have a great point that as parents we need to practice humility. I don’t think that either of my kids (14, 21) see me as being boastful or arrogant. It is better to let them see you fall from time to time.

  • Such a beautiful post Sherrie.  Thank you so much.  I concur.  At every turn I am feeling the call towards humility.  Towards giving, unselfishly, and without waiting for a return.  I want, humbly, to keep finding the path that will lead to the greatest generosity.  What am I here to give?  With humble thanks!  Megan

    • Anonymous

      You are most welcome 🙂 So wonderful to hear you enjoyed.

      • Why did I call you Sherrie?  Good grief.  Sorry!

  • It helps me to think of humility more in the light of “not having a huge ego” and less about the actual meaning of being lower or meek. That way I can still promote my work and my expertise without feeling like I have to be completely silent about what I am good at.

    Another thing that goes closely with being humble I think is having a large amount of gratitude for the people I work with and the people I help. Being thankful that they put their trust in me helps me feel great about what I do without having to expand my ego. And the gratitude that they show back to me does a great amount of promotion so that I don’t have to worry about always tooting my own horn.


    • Anonymous

      That’s exactly how I view humility, too. Meek and lowly … not so much.

      And you’re spot on re gratitude. I think that’s a huge part of the equation as well.

    • I so agree with you here, Jeremie! I don’t see humility as meekness at all but I like the words modest and humble as synonyms.

      Gratitude is such an important part of being human. I’ve made a list of things I’m grateful for and it’s good to go back and read it or add to it periodically to help keep me grounded.

  • Reading comments about balancing humility with calling others’ attention to what you have to share, I’m wondering if one key is whether you look at having something worthwhile to share as an extraordinary thing or as a normal part of being a curious, always-exploring, human.

    If creating something worthwhile is extraordinary, then we have to decide either that we’re a Special Snowflake and others are less worthy/interesting/awesome, or that we’re just not that awesome and should remain quiet. If creating something worthwhile is a normal part of life- if we expect that most everyone has something to offer that many others will resonate with- then we can invite people to take a look at what we’re sharing without needing to make any claims that we’re more awesome than they are.

    • Anonymous

      I love the part about not needing to make claims about awesomeness. I think we can all be – and all are – awesome. And that it’s great to share the things we’ve accomplished, are proud of, etc., without the need to make any claims about ….. anything 🙂

      • Indeed! And saying, “I’m good at such-and-such” doesn’t mean “no one else is good at this” or similar. We can say the former while still honoring other folks’ skills and accomplishments.

  • Niraj Popat

    Considering the Life Being Humble is originality, solely accepted by Humanity where its shine would last forever..whereas if you are influenced by your success insisted by the changes in Life, its an imitation tht would be sure of loosing it shine one day..after all Humanity satisfies one’s soul & everything other than that satisfies one’s ego.. 

    • Anonymous

      Lovely. Humanity satisfies the soul. Everything else satisfies the ego. I’d much rather feed my soul! 

  • Haleyveturis

    Humility is key to me for brand loyalty. I’m so turned-off by people on Twitter who say they are in the business of caring for people and then they don’t follow any of the people they “care” about. To me, that is not a good sign of humility but of a case of “egoism.” Loved reading this article. Thanks Shelly!

    • Anonymous

      Me toooooooooooooo! So glad you enjoyed it!

    • Anonymous

      Gotta love those networking and social gurus with a hundred thousand followers who themselves follow 12.

      12 other gurus at that.

      • Anonymous

        I like to unfollow said gurus.  If you’re all that & you don’t care enough to interact with someone, then you’re not really providing any value.  If you ask me, the word *guru* is overused but however would be an excellent move on a game of words with friends.

  • I just found an interesting article about the power of the introvert.

    • Anonymous

      I saw that, too, Shana. I’m also a huge fan of Lisa Petrilli and her work …. which is obvious by my earlier comments. She was also recently featured on the Harvard Business Review on this very topic!

  • KarenW

    Hi Shelly,

    Lovely post – thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us. 

    For me, humility links quickly to vulnerability, a place where few of us love to live.  However, it is in our vulnerability that we are most human, humble and accessible to others.  It doesn’t mean being a doormat or ashamed of our special powers.  For me it means being as proud of our special powers as we are of what makes us feel uncertain, humble and even anxious.  I love Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability – her thinking and reflections feel very connected to what you’ve shared.  What I’ve taken away from your post is that in building community there is an opportunity to be expert and ego-less in equal measure – to offer what you know/have learned from experience and acknowledge all that you don’t know.  It is to provide fresh, thoughtful advice only as often as we ask questions and wonder aloud about all the things we’d love to learn more about and invite others into that discovery process.

    Your post has tickled my brain this afternoon as I work on copy and art direction for our new community website.  Thank you!


    • Anonymous

      I do so love tickling a brain, Karen. And I’m a HUGE fan of Brene Brown’s …. and like her, I believe that our vulnerability is the very thing that makes us so uniquely wonderful.

      Glad you enjoyed it – and love the gray matter that you so eloquently shared in the process.

    • love your take aways Karen! Awesome stuff!

  • Anonymous

    For me, humility goes right along with loyalty, they are hand in hand. Imnsho, you cannot have one without the other.

    If you want people to be truly loyal to you, they cannot see you as the guy up on the mountain. They need to see you as the guy who could be at the next desk over. If you aren’t acting like you need and appreciate other people, they will not be loyal to you. It will likely be exactly the opposite.

    • Anonymous

      Good thoughts, Mark … and I concur.

  • Wonderful post. No you are not off base at all. Humbling myself was never part of a master plan to build my business but it has always been a part of me. Admittedly I struggled with whether or not I had it right and wondered in the past if I should toot my own horn  a little more but humility has created loyal, authentic and sincere relationships time and time again.

    Shelly, I’m not a God Squader either (not that there is anything wrong with that) but your story of where you got some inspiration put a smile on my face. So nice to hear that there is a place for humility, happiness and success together.

    • Anonymous

      Clearly we both came of age watching Seinfeld (not that there’s anything wrong with that) …. and it was an inspirational moment. I, too, often wonder whether I should toot my own horn more often, and I think finding and striking that happy medium is the answer, at least for me. Also, I think that it’s even better to toot your own horn whilst also recognizing others … that can make all the difference in the world. At least, that’s one of the keys to my own success.

      Thanks for the kind words, Tereza. So glad that you enjoyed.

  • Thanks for the inspiring post, Shelly. I started nodding my head at, “As an initial step, in order to garner loyalty, one must first do something.” Take action – I hear it all the time. I can’t build loyalty with people who don’t know I exist, right?

    Humility certainly does resonate with me. Taking that action with humility will certainly go far in building that fiercely loyal following.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Shelley spelled the wrong way. And yes, doing something …. that’s the key :)))

  • Anonymous

    Right on, Shelly! I completely agree that humility is a HUGE part of inspiring loyalty.  How can we be loyal to anyone who is out of touch with the fact that we are all in this together? 

    Love the time and attention you took in this post to really tell a story (speaking of which, I really need to go to mass) and use examples (Is Tebow really Jesus?) and btw,  that book sounds awesome.  Ya, so you pretty much ROCKED it!  Thanks for being a living example of super star humility, with incredible wit and a great sense of humor.   LOVED this post!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Britt .. you  made me smile. And yes, the book does sound awesome. And no, in spite of what anyone else might say, Tim Tebow is NOT Jesus. Hahahahahahaha.

  • I personally am truly attracted to those who are humble.  There’s something so genuine and unique about humility that those who practice it attract others effortlessly.  Is it possible to “practice” it or must it be a characteristic already embedded in you?  

    • Anonymous

      I am, too Kim. And I think it is something that, for some, is innate. And for others, I think it is definitely something you can practice. I think I have – and do – a little bit of both. Which is probably common.

  • Anonymous

    This is a tougher one than I originally thought. I know that my accomplishments may never have happened without the support of friends and family. However there are certain careers where I search for someone who thinks of himself/herself as master of the universe.

    If I need a surgeon, I want one who knows he is the best and is not afraid to show it. Same goes for an attorney. These types of people may not have the greatest bedside manners or be the kind of people I want to be friends with, but they get the job done.

    That being said, I remember a time (last year) when everyone worked so hard to create a caring culture. Our customer survey scores were the highest in the district. When it came time for recognition, the general manager took all of the glory and made me feel unimportant.

    Maybe being humble is about showing how important people are.  Just a thought.

    • Anonymous

      I can honestly say, Miriam, that I am one of the very best at what I do. And I also believe that saying you’re the best – at anything – is lame. Proving it, by doing exceptional work, getting results that matter, no matter what they might be, is another thing entirely. For me, the proof is in the pudding – don’t say, do.

      For me being humble is about being confident, capable, respectful and aware of the contributions of others to the successes we have and the accomplishments we are responsible for. 

      And when a general manager takes credit for something that others contributed to, I think that stinks. And it reeks of arrogance, lack of confidence and egotism. All of which also stink.

      It’s so interesting to me to see people’s different interpretations of “humility” and, in so many instances, that’s perceived as being a negative. I see it as quiet confidence that speaks for itself, without the need for boasting or chest beating or pontificating about greatness. 

      And I do also thing that a component of humility is recognizing others …. absolutely.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts … always love that!

  • Jenny

    Awesome Shelly!  Being human does seem to be the key, when we just show up as us and leave the bullshit and bravado at the door it is quite amazing how much easier it is to connect.

    • Anonymous

      I love it. Let’s practice leaving the bullshit and bravado at the door. That might just be my favorite quote of the day, Jenny!

    • Anonymous

      I second that! Definitely something that I’m going to have to remember! Leave the bullshit & bravado at the door…

  • Anonymous

    Hi Shelley,
    As usual you have a given a thorough and crystal clear presentation on the topic at hand. I have to disagree with you, though.
    Speaking for myself, I know I have a big ego. As a funeral director I couldn’t walk in to a families house and begin the process of establishing (a very small piece of) order in what can only be a situation of extreme chaos. Death does that to a family.
    I will go further (without permission) and suggest that you couldn’t do what you do, whether assisting clients or offering your opinion on your blog without having a big ego.
    And hell, in for a penny in for a pound, Sarah couldn’t be an effective coach, cajoling , mentoring or redirecting her clients without a big ego.
    There is however a huge difference between having a big ego and being a jackass.
    When I would tell people I (and every other funeral director) have a large ego, I would get quizzical looks because I am usually measured and low-key. It’s not the ego, it’s how one wears it.
    If you think I’m merely playing with semantics, OK but I think maybe it’s more than semantics. Humble for humble sake is just as useless as a blow hard. Understanding time and place and lifting up others rather than hogging a spotlight I think is the difference.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Barry,

      Good points. But with all due respect, you’re mistaken. You are confusing egotism with confidence – and they are two very, very different things. Me? I have a LOT of confidence. In my abilities, in my team, in the things we can produce and deliver on a regular basis. I’m also confident from a personal standpoint — in fact, I may be one of the most confident people I know. But I’m not egotistical about it. I’m quietly confident.

      From Websters:  

      egotism; conceit; self-importance: Her ego becomes moreunbearable each day.

      confidence; belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance: His lack of confidencedefeated him.

      And I also think you might be misunderstanding what I mean by “humility” or the act of being humble. Here’s what I mean:

      humility:  the quality or condition of being humble;  modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.

      and …. not proud or arrogant; modest: to be humble although successful, having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one’s merits, importance, etc.; free from vanity, egotism,boastfulness, or great pretensions.
      So, hopefully you see … for me, and the premise of this post is not that humility is bad or meek or lowly. Instead, it’s about not being boastful, arrogant or pretentious — all of which I detest. Confidence? That’s another matter entirely.So, I respectfully submit that you are a very confident man. And that’s part of what makes you successful. But I hope that you aren’t egotistical … because I can’t imagine that is what families who are grieving really need. Instead, I think they need compassion, confidence and someone who can help steer them through a very difficult time. Without thought of their own needs and fulfilling their own egos, but instead, focusing on and using your many talents to serve the needs of others. That, in my opinion, is a formula for success.Love sharing gray matter with you, Barry. Thanks for participating!

  • Humility is the only way to open both our own  hearts as well as the hearts of others because it shows we are human – fraught with mistakes, missteps and confusion. I totally agree with your blog and everything you have said. IT’s so refreshing to see the shift in consciousness away from the alpha male to the power of cooperation. Humility fosters cooperation. Ego competition. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Very well said, Catherine!

    • Anonymous

      Cooperation is good. Collaboration — better. I’m very focused on collaboration and have been for a number of years, Catherine. I believe that great results come from collaboration and that while one mind is terrific, many minds is even better. Competition is good. I like competition. I like winning. But I do so love doing it as part of a team. And if the team is even smarter than I am …. individually or collectively, then I’m doing something right!

      Love your thoughts … really, really wonderful.

  • Anonymous

    I have to say Shelly that you’ve hit a nerve with me today. 

    I’m staring out at my limb.  I’m scared as anything to take the next itty bitty little step out onto that limb but I know that my greatest good is out there.  The place where I’ll get to help so many more people is out there.  And I’m procrastinating like it’s my business.  What it’s boiling down to is that in a way I’m afraid to be human, to be seen making mistakes & maybe saying or doing the wrong things.  I’m almost afraid to be seen for who I really am because if they see the real me, then I’ll have to live up to that new standard.  Like everyone here commenting, reading & lurking, we’re all on a collision course for greatness- in whatever shape or form that takes.  But what if we’re too intimidated to go there?  To even chance our status quo for something so much better, so much more incredibly impactful?  Holy crap, it makes me want to find a safe little cave to run off & hide in.

    Because if I go after that greatness, then I fear I’ll lose my capability to be humble, to not let my ego grow out of proportion.  But that’s just it, you’re tempting us with doing great things while still retaining humility.  The only disconnect is my past thoughts & I’m now being challenged to step outside of that.  Thank you for the challenge.  I so needed that today!

    • Anonymous

      I’m so happy to hear it, Annette. And like my curmudgeonly friend who kept nudging me, I’ll remind you that failing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Steve Jobs failed. Thomas Edison failed. Donald Trump failed. The list goes on and on and on. But one thing is certain …. you will never get to experience success unless you come out of that cave and try. And trust me, failing isn’t so bad. I’ve done it. On more than one occasion :)))

      • Anonymous

        Well then, I’m off to go step out onto that limb & fail!  Or succeed, whatever happens!

  • Shelly, Thank you for your insights. I’ve never consciously made the connection between loyalty and humility, although I know the two are tied together. Humility is authenticity, and that is my personal filter for cutting through the noise we are exposed to in the form of unlimited content delivered on so many different media platforms and with people as well. There is something very relatable about being human, and that realness is where we all overlap, sharing a common heartbeat.

    • Anonymous

      Authenticity. What a great word to use to personify humility, Peter.  That’s good. And yes, humanness — it most definitely equates to realness (love making up words, don’t you?). I think people get hung up on the concept of humility in many instances – and perceive it as being negative. I don’t see it that way at all. And even more people, at least in my experience, all too often forget how important it is to just be human. Love your thoughts!

  • Arushi Pareek

    I would definitely agree with you and say that humility is important, but at the same time, I need to keep reminding myself, “I am great! I worked hard so I deserve this!” 
    Pride and Ego do ruin a LOT of things, including relationships, but since to me humility does not come naturally, I just try to find the middle path. That makes it more natural, because I’d rather be honest, and not so nice, than dishonest, and very nice. Does that make sense? 
    I do actually respect a lot of people who are really humble, and I admire them, but at the same time, I end up thinking, would I ever be that generous, that nice, and that kind? Will I ever be able to put my own pride aside that completely? But it gives me hope to see people who manage to do just that, just fine 🙂  

    • Anonymous

      Good thoughts, Arushi. I don’t advocate – at all – putting your pride in the closet. I’m a very confident person, I work hard, do good things of which I’m very proud, on both a personal and a business level. Occasionally, I even think I’m a really big deal. But the balance that I try to strike is to not drink my own KoolAid. To always try and remember that typically the business accomplishments that I experience are as a result of not only having great clients who trust me, but having a great team who can help me execute a vision or a strategy. I like being nice. In fact, I like it way better than being arrogant and ego driven. So, for me, that’s the balance. Humility isn’t at all about being meek and quiet … but rather about being graceful and appreciative, confident without being boastful, successful without needing to rub anyone’s nose in it … those … well, they are the things that matter to me. And which, for me, personify humility.

  • Well ladies,
    what a great way to start the day!

    The post on
    humility resonates with me, as do many of the comments made.

    The line I say
    all the time is “If I can look in the mirror at the end of the day and
    like myself it was a good day!” There have being many good days, a few
    with shadows cast and others well I would rather just forget.

    Yet, it is the
    art of going back to those situations, whatever they maybe and trying to
    remember the lesson, bring the situation to a positive conclusion or just
    coming to a place of understanding that as built strength and loyalty to those
    relationships for me. Threw the awkwardness, harshness, thoughtlessness it was
    having the humility to say, “I am sorry.”, “I don’t
    understand?”, “Can you clarify?’, “I was just plain wrong.”
    even when you truly believe the ball belongs in the other persons court just
    saying, “I am sorry you feel that way.” is a powerful way of moving
    the situation forward.

    Not that I
    advocate difficult moments to build loyalty, I advocate resolution as awkward
    and uncomfortable as it is to go back to that person or situation and resolve
    it. It truly will feel like you are alone on that branch but, in my experience
    it is in those moments that a helping hand is out stretched and you are brought
    back to the comfort zone no longer alone but with someone who seeks a

    Take that
    chance and resolve any, conflicts, tension and frustrations. By taking the
    opportunity to approach the situation with humility in a humble manner you may
    find the results you seek. That could take your relationship to a whole new level,
    developing a deep seated loyalty to each other from the experience shared. This
    will allow you a whole new appreciation and gratitude for the relationship
    whether personal or professional.


  • rmsorg

    OMGOsh Shelly, this resonates with me so much!  I unequivocally agree with you 100% .  Being humble is so hard and because of that so uncommon that when one practices this ideology, one can’t help but stand out and get noticed.  I don’t do it for that reason, mine are also religious (I use that term very loosely) I prefer to us Christ follower.  Humility is knowing you are where you are at not solely because of you, but because of gifts you’ve been given.  Share them, go out on a limb and help others that need from those gifts/talents. 
    You inspired me so much with this post, and I’ve read your blogs before but this one had me smiling and nodding my head in agreement.


  • I am way behind in this 28 day project so Im playing Catch up.  I completely agree. We are all human and we need to practice humility. When you do you will find people respond well and they will believe in you and follow you.. 

  • Just caught this post