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‘Don’t be so humble, you are not that great,’ sail former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. This quote was a wake-up call for me when I read it. For years, I used self-deprecation as my go-to tactic to build rapport.

I grew up in a small village. I was the best student in my class, and I hated it. Being more academic than my classmates made me a target for social isolation. I felt that the Japanese were right: ‘The nail that sticks out, gets hammered down.”

I developed many techniques to avoid getting hammered down in school. The most significant of them was self-deprecation. It served me well back then as it allowed me to enter the ‘cool kids’ crew. Hiding achievements and revealing vulnerabilities became my social modus operandi. 

It was years later that I realized that I was shooting myself in the foot. What worked well in school, was an impediment in the business world. As author Marianne Williamson said: “There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel i...

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