Do you have an adverse reaction when I talk about selling yourself? Do you think that selling yourself some how implies a loss of dignity or a weakness of character? Or perhaps you think you’re so good that you don’t need to sell yourself? I hope you answered no to all these questions.

You don’t become successful by sitting back and waiting for good things to happen to you. Marketing yourself is the only way to spread the word. Do you think Madonna never did any marketing? Or anyone else at the top of their profession? They all had to sell themselves to get where they are today.

And as for loss of dignity or weakness of character, this is a very distorted notion of what selling yourself is all about. Selling yourself does not mean selling out. Those people who sell out are those who don’t follow their dreams; those who give p because the path they’ve chosen turns out to be a little rockier than they had first imagined.

When you were a child, People probably often asked you, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ You would have answered with a clear (if temporary) vision of your future self’ — doctor, dancer, train driver, astronaut, movie star, prime minister.

If someone had asked instead, ‘What do you think you can be when you grow up?’ would you have answered differently?

Probably not. Because when we are young we can envisage ourselves as we want to be: singing on stage, reading the news on television or playing on the centre court at Wimbledon. We can imagine ourselves performing delicate brain surgery or designing the world’s longest suspension bridge. We can picture ourselves strong, confident, capable, and unafraid. The gap between what we want and what we think we can do is very small.

For most of us, this gap begins to widen as we grow older. The first time someone tells us ‘you’re not clever enough’ or ‘tall enough’ or ‘girls can’t do that’, we are astounded by this news and shrug it off as just another mistaken adult notion. The second and third times, however, we begin to doubt ourselves, and after a while we believe what we are told. We build up an inventory of ‘cannots’, ‘should nots’ and ‘it’s never been done befores’. We lose our certainty, and the clear pictures we had as children become cloudy and fade.

Sometimes you have to go back to go ahead. This book is about going back to those visions of what you really wanted to do, and replacing the old inventory of negatives with an objective and positive assessment of your own talents and achievements. You are this country’s finest resource, harbouring a wealth of untapped or undervalued potential waiting only to be discovered.

Most people seem to think that you can’t be true to yourself and what you want to do, and sell yourself at the same time. I’m here to tell you that it is possible, in fact it is absolutely necessary, to do both.

I believe in truth in advertising. I’m not telling you to learn sales and marketing skills so that you can spout a lot of hype about yourself and fool someone into giving you a job you can’t do. I’m encouraging you to add salespersonship to your other skills so that you can have the career you want, and use your basic talents to your best potential.

Instead of going after what we want, we have been taking what we can get. A very famous book called Think and Grow Rich written by Napoleon Hill, contains the statement, ‘Ninety-eight out of every hundred people working for wages today are in the positions they hold because they lacked the definiteness of decision to plan a definite position, and the knowledge of how to choose an employer.’

You don’t have to bè’among those 98 unhappy people. By setting goals that are important to you and that will make you happy, you will have the ‘definiteness of decision.’ And by following the marketing concepts in this book, you’ll know how to choose an employer.

The success of any sales and marketing effort depends to a large extent on the salesperson’s expectations. If you go into a situation convinced that you will fail — that you won’t make the sale, or won’t get the job — you probably won’t.

Most of us have been programmed to equate mistakes with failure. We use the fact that we have made a mistake as proof positive that we are unworthy or unable to attain success. We tend to fall back into old attitudes when dealing with new situations, and we often rely on the conditioned response which says ‘Oops! Sorry! This can’t be done!’ We believe this inner voice, and give up before we have even tried.

Belief in failure can become a conditioned response, but so can belief in success! Olympic athletes train more than their bodies to earn that gold medal; they prepare their minds as well. Before they begin a race they envisage their performance. They rehearse their success before it happens.

Paint a clear, detailed picture of what you want to accomplish for yourself, and then take each small step necessary to follow it through. Barbara Sher, in her book, Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want, says, ‘Most of us have a distorted notion of how things actually get done in this world. We think that accomplishment only comes from great deeds. Great deeds are made up of small, steady actions, and it is these that you must learn to value and sustain.’

Your ability to succeed in selling yourself doesn’t depend on what has happened in your past, but on how you see your future. Convince yourself that you will be successful and you’ll convince others as well.