I’m always amused when I see someone with hardly any credentials at all drone on about their illustrious lives with platitudes and white noise, while globally renowned figures like John Grisham keep their bios to 20 words.
Having written scads of bios over the past 20-plus years, and seen others’ work both stellar and abysmal, this Fast Company piece on biography writing is spot-on.
Here is one of the best lines from Jonathan Rick’s “The Art of Writing Your Own Bio: How to Toot Your Horn Without Sounding Like a Blowhard”:
“To be sure, the problem isn’t with boasting. It’s with who’s doing the boasting. Boasting is best when validated by a third party. Otherwise, you’re just another self-proclaimed guru in a field that’s long on salesmanship and short on specifics.”
Rick’s article has other very good insights about how to take distinctive approaches to bio writing, such as having colleagues help tell someone’s story.
In writing my own bio, I have sought a balance between professional, personal and off-beat (such as noting my once driving an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile as a reporter and my ambidextrous free-throw shooting zeal).
The random inclusions are not for their own sake, either: they help paint an accurate reflection of who I am, in all my off-the-wall reality.
That, too, is why my bio photo shows me dressed up as Super Shopper Spotter, with the caption, “It takes a courageous man (or at least a brazen PR guy) to wear red boots, mask and cape in front of a flower shop–or anywhere else for that matter.”