Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Self Promotion

I was reading a paddling forum the other day and saw a typical post about how someone met some 'famous' paddler and was surprised at how nice and approachable they were.  The assumption being that anyone who promotes themselves as a professional paddler is probably an arrogant ass who lives to feed their ego.  I've seen enough posts and had enough discussions to know that this is a common (though not universal) assumption.  But in my experience it is completely the opposite - those who promote themselves tend to be some of the friendliest, most helpful and down to earth paddlers you can find.  And here's some thoughts as to what that's all about.

The people who promote themselves are doing it for one main reason - to paddle more.  They are generally trying to make a living through paddling - and isn't that the American dream?  to make a career out of something you love?  But the simple truth is that if you just paddle, never talk about it, never share your adventures, then no one will ever pay you for it.  If you can afford to do that then great, but most of us need to work for a living.  Eric Jackson sells himself and in the process created a company that provides jobs for hundreds of folks and great equipment for us to use.  Thank you EJ.  Darin McQuoid takes great pictures and writes up his trips, sharing experiences that are beyond most of us.  Thanks Darin.  The Hurricane Riders share videos of wild and beautiful locations that inspire us to get out there as well.  Good going boys.  And there are many more.  It's not about ego, it's about using their skills and experience to generate revenue and opportunities to allow them to paddle more.  I feel confident in saying that most of those folks would be happy to just paddle, but they are selling themselves and their experiences in order to finance their dream. That kind of dedication to the sport is exemplary and that is why when you meet them you should not be surprised that they are some of the best ambassadors for paddling you could hope to find.

I promote myself:  I have a blog (you're reading it right now); a website (; I post videos of my paddling (; post pictures (; write articles (California Kayaker); and generally throw my name out there whenever I can.  As a professional instructor my reputation affects my bank account - I get more invitations to teach, attract more students, get paid for writing, get sponsorship for trips, all from getting better known as an individual. I could keep all this information to myself and just enjoy my paddling as it happens. But I would have missed out on many great experiences, skipped many great trips and never met so many great people.  So if a little self aggrandizement is the price for such adventures then I'm willing to pay it.

And perhaps naively, I do believe some folks out there enjoy sharing in my adventures - even if I'm not the best, wildest, most super-awesome paddler on the planet...


  1. Unfortunately its pretty well documented that to be a pro at the highest level a lot of self confidence is required. You have to believe your great to be great. Even more unfortunately some athletes don't know how to turn it off when off the "field". The nice thing about paddling is the money hasn't ruined it.....yet. Like pro surfing, which is filled with ego-pro-jerks - paddling will probably eventually have some to. The thing that makes me proud is it seems to be an extremely low percentage compared to any other sports. Right now paddlers need to be nice to recruit more folks to the sport. Surfing does not need new recruits therefore more jerks. And by the way I enjoy your posts!

  2. I appreciate your "self aggrandizement"...keep up the good work Bryant!

  3. I hear you bro. Keep up the good work and keep fighting the good fight for us all

  4. Its great how promoting ourselves really just comes down to sharing our love for kayaking and the river with as many people as possible. Especially as instructors, our adventures fuel the fire in our students. Its hard to think of ego taking over our sport, in fact, since at some point on the water you are going to have to set ego aside or you'll just get punished. Nice post and keep up the great discussions!