“Sarah, we’d like to honor you with the Woman of the Year award!
You’ve accomplishedso much that we thought it would only be appropriate to celebrate your success.”
“Wow” said Sarah. “Really?”
Sarah often doubted herself and her abilities regardless of her A super plus personality and work ethic. In that split second she reflected back to how many times she felt less than, and at times even felt like an absolute fraud. All of which made her work even harder to prove her worth.
She smiled at herself as the moment of reflection was interrupted.
“Yes, you know when we show women achieving, it helps inspire others to know that they can do it too”.?? Sarah nodded as she listened, but began to feel uneasy about the award of Woman of the Year in this prestigious women’s association. After all, they have more than 100,000 members. She was amazed to be singled out. In fact, she thought, “I actually haven’t been active in this organization at all since joining 6 months ago.” Was her profile even up to date? Her antenna went up. “Why doesn’t this sound kosher to me?” she thought.
“Sarah, with the award comes a plaque. May I mail it to your PO Box?”? “Yes, um, sure, but what else can you tell me about this award? I’m asking because I’m surprised.” She expressed her inner thoughts about her lack of participation.
“Oh don’t worry about that. Other organizations offer these awards and charge $2- 3,000 for this elite privilege…”
Now her BS meter went up, big time. Her left eyebrow raised and her jaw tightened. Here it comes. She’s about to be sold something in order to be honored as “Woman of the Year”. The conversation continued for several more minutes. Sarah challenged the sales person on the other end of the line and determined very quickly that the organization knew little about her, her achievements, the litany of recent PR for her work or the organizations for which she volunteered her time.
“Well if it’s about the money, I can offer you a reduced rate this one time”
She ended the call by telling the woman politely that she would not invest any additional money in an organization that she really had no intimate knowledge. The call ended abruptly as the sales woman said “ok” and clicked down the phone.
A week later, after an email to the organization expressing her utter disbelief about being asked to pay for the honor, she received a phone call. It was explained that the upgrade in membership was to facilitate the marketing of the honoree to the organizations members. ?”Really?” Sarah asked. “Can you explain to me exactly what that means?” The customer service rep could only explain it was about search engine keywords “so other members can find you.” The same rep also admitted the award was not based on activity in the organization. “So how is this determined?” she asked. The rep stumbled over her words. “It’s based on your niche.” Sarah retorted “What have I accomplished in my niche to receive this honor?” The line went quiet.
This is a TRUE story. The names of the person and the organization are being held anonymous in respect for the good work their members may be doing. However, there is a reason I’m sharing this story with you, my readers.
During desperate times, people resort to desperate measures. This tactic, to sell premiere memberships under the guise of being honored with an award, is one that preys on a person’s self-esteem (or lack thereof). As a professional of more than 25 years in business I have never once paid for an accolade or award. No one should. It is an award for a reason. It is to recognize good works, achievements or advancements in your given field by your peers – not the recognition that you’ve paid a fee.
I liken this tactic to throwing your best friend a surprise party but asking them to pay for the cake, make some of the food and to arrive early and help you decorate.
I am not naïve. This type of thing goes on all the time. However, I would like to throw this warning flag up and tell you that when others ask you to pay for an award they are basically preying on your deep seeded fear that you may not be recognized for all that you do and maybe, just maybe, this is going to be the only chance you get. So take it! No matter how it comes. No matter the cost – small or large. No one will know, except you.
Do pay for association fees and memberships that provide you great content, insight or access to resources you may not have within your reach.
Do pay other professionals who offer you services and tools that help you advance your life personally or professionally.
But please do not fall prey to these desperate tactics that exploit your hidden doubts and fears about yourself.