Your Ego is Not Your Amigo

My Pilates teacher always says, “Your ego is not your amigo.” This mantra also applies to public relations. For the majority of the time, we work in the background advocating for our clients, whether it’s strategizing, researching, writing, editing and pitching. And at the end of the day, good PR pros don’t care about their name recognition … they care about generating recognition for their clients.

After 12 years in public relations, my dad still asks me where my name is in stories I place. It’s nowhere. My ego was checked at the door long ago. If you’re a good public relations practitioner, you care more about giving than getting. You collaborate with others, you help fuel success, you’re open to learning … and you don’t care who gets the credit. Self-serving PR people may garner some success (and reality TV shows) in the short term, but they are ultimately doomed in the long term.

This point is well proven in Adam Grant’s book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success. The book epitomizes why success is not just driven by talent, effort and drive – but also by a person’s “reciprocity style.” The acclaimed business professor at the Wharton School categorizes people as givers, matchers or takers. Givers don’t have ulterior motives when they help others or only help certain people (e.g., referring candidates to jobs), and view giving as a natural extension of themselves. Interestingly, in all industry sectors givers are at the bottom of the success ladder – but they also dominate the top. Matchers and takers are in the middle.

Grant offers insightful studies and interviews with unassuming “givers” and what drives their success. If you haven’t heard of tech entrepreneur Adam Rifkin (who has an appropriate anagram I Find Karma), Simpsons TV writer George Meyer, basketball executive Stu Inman or businessman Jon Huntsman Sr., you should … because they are givers in action and worth learning from.

One of my co-workers recommended this book to me and she is undoubtedly in the giver category. She makes everyone better at their job and her end goal is the betterment of the team and our clients – not herself. Her fingerprints are usually on everything that is good and she’s content being behind the scenes.

Working with givers is beneficial because it makes you embrace a more generous view in helping others.

As Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam, says, “Good givers are great getters; they make everybody better.”

To find out if you’re a giver, taker or a matcher, you can take a self-assessment at

Doreen Overstreet is VP of Public Relations and thinks the world is a better place when we give rather than take.


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