When something surprising happens, have you heard someone say “I fell out of my chair”? Do you ever get mentally sidetracked wondering about weird stuff like I do?

How many people do you suppose actually fall out of their chair? I can imagine it happening in an Old West saloon with a poorly played out of tune piano in the background as the cantankerous town drunk sitting on his barstool spontaneously transitions from conscious to un. I’ve never actually witnessed anyone pass out while seated, so that’s how I imagine it. I will not admit to any firsthand knowledge of this, but I would think a chair would be much more difficult to fall out of than a stool, unless it is particularly undersized, unstable, broken or the person sitting is not quite yet a toddler.

As I sit here on the floor massaging my bruised forehead, I am musing about the recent announcement of nominees for the 2021 OneVoice USA Awards. When Brad Hyland sent me a message telling me about my nomination (Corporate/Explainer – Best Overall Performance), I was stunned. My brain fogged over, my breathing became erratic and for all intents and purposes I mentally and emotionally froze. I’m not kidding. Yes, I can hear you asking under your breath how this is any different than my normal state. Ha ha. Really funny.

Is it what we say or how we say it?

As I listened to Marc Scott’s Every Day VOpreneur Podcast recently on how to market an award nomination, he offered good food for thought and some timely ideas about ways to strategically utilize an award nomination or win for marketing. Along the way he talks about (my paraphrase) the need to sound authentic by avoiding the terms like “humbled” and “surprised” since you were obviously proud enough of your work to submit it for consideration in the first place, which you knew could result in a nomination. It can come across as disingenuous.

I understand this, because I have frequently thought the same thing. Thinking about it sent me off on a tangent. How many times have we heard award nominees or award recipients say how surprised and humbled they are? Have you ever heard that and responded with an uncharitable thought about how phony that sounds? The affectation gets even more cringeworthy when they add the tired trope about how it is “…just an honor to be nominated”.

It was real

Well, once I verified what Brad had said and found my name on the list, I was excited. This is a totally new experience for me and I wanted to tell people, so I wrote a Facebook post about it. As I wrote, I tried diligently to not use Those Words which I had dismissively discounted from others in the past. Humbled. Surprised. Stunned. Honored. From the outside looking in, my prior observations told me they sound as authentic as a prewritten publicity statement freshly minted from the PR department after editing from the legal team.

Examining how I felt and searching for words to express it, I struggled. The problem was, I felt exactly what Those Words express. Even though I did submit a project for consideration for the nomination I received, at the time I thought it an extreme long shot that wouldn’t go anywhere. I really believed that. So, yes, I was genuinely surprised. Astounded. Stunned even. It didn’t seem real. I kept my fingers crossed, hoping I wouldn’t get a call from the OneVoice people telling me of the clerical error which accidentally put my name on the list, we’re very sorry and better luck next year. I still haven’t received that call. The fact that I have turned off my phone and left it off since then may have something to do with it. I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.

How do I really feel?

I do know I feel humbled by the recognition from judges who are certainly more experienced and skilled than I am. I really do feel honored “just to be nominated” and on the list alongside five other esteemed colleagues, one of which is my friend Brad Hyland.

You’ve probably guessed where this is going. Despite my best efforts I found myself writing “surprised”, “humbled”, “stunned” and “honored”. I didn’t write it, but you could even say I “fell out of my chair”. These were the words that described how I really reacted. As I wrote, I suddenly realized why people have always used those terms. I am sure for some it is a rote recitation of what they think they are expected to say and that’s fine. For many more, like me, those are the words that describe how they truly feel. They mean it. I mean it.


Now, my conscience compels me to apologize to all those whom I have judged wrongly in the past when they express themselves in this way. If you have ever been nominated or received an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, a Grammy Award or similar, I humbly apologize for letting my cynicism get in the way of my better nature.

I acknowledge Marc Scott has a good point about always tailoring our messaging to sound authentic. We need to keep in mind the way people will receive the message, not only how we would express it if shooting from the hip like I did. In the future I will probably be more deliberate and tactically take better advantage of the opportunity. He has a good practical point about delaying a bit and spreading out announcements on different media to prolong the benefit to our marketing. Who knows? Waiting a little longer may also have given me enough time to craft my messaging with more care.

Regardless, I stand by what I wrote because it really is authentic, even if some might not read it that way.

The challenge

As for Brad, who graciously celebrated my nomination with me even before I knew it had happened, I say this. From now until the winner is announced in the category we both have been nominated for, the game is ON. I publicly challenge you to a wager. If one of us wins, the winner gets an IOU from the other for a home cooked, BBQ/smoked/grilled dinner. If neither wins, the bet is null and void. What say ye, kind sir? *slaps across the face with glove.* (Figuratively. Since I am not stupid, I would never do that in person. Have you seen this guy?)

As for the three other categories you are nominated for, I wish you the best of luck.

To Alaina Wis, Michelle Sundholm, Mike Cooper and Roman Bari, I feel truly honored to be counted among such gifted people as nominees in this category. I sincerely wish you the best of luck… next year. *wink*

Excuse me now as I pick myself up off the floor. I need to get that bump on my head examined. Stupid chair.

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8 Responses

  1. Well said and I am in the same boat. Stunned. A total and supreme long shot. Then….There I was amongst the nominees. Stunned I say, LOL. I’m with you. Just so excited to be nominated! Bravo to you, Jon, and huge Congratulations.

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