Cocky vs. Confident | From The Other Side… By Jake Palmer

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Recently my wife and some of her friends had a chance to see a local DJ playing at a bar in our area when I asked them what they thought of the show, and the DJ, one of my wife’s friends told me that she didn’t like the DJ. When I asked what she didn’t like about him, she said he was too “cocky.” This took me a little by surprise since I know the DJ in question and find him to be a talented DJ who does a good show. This got me thinking about the difference between cocky and confident.
First, I looked at the definition of the two words and found some interesting differences. According to, COCKY is defined as “arrogant; pertly self-assertive; conceited”, while the definition of CONFIDENT reads: “full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing”. After reading these definitions, I feel like the “fine” line between the two words got thicker.
The first thing that jumped out at me was the difference in the defining words; words like: arrogant and conceited were used to define cocky. These are some powerful words, and dare I say, not necessarily the words you would want to use on your brochure. While the definition of confident uses words like trust, belief, and reliability. Now these are some defining words I think anyone would like to have used to describe themselves or their services. There seems to be some glaring difference between the two. Think about it, would you rather have people describe you as conceited or reliable? Would you rather be arrogant or trustworthy? Better yet, do you want the person or company in charge of the entertainment at your wedding to be conceited or trustworthy? Now the two words start to separate themselves, but is it that easy?
In 1969 “Broadway” Joe Namath guaranteed a win in Super Bowl III… Cocky or confident? Namath and the Jets went on to beat the Colts and win that Super Bowl, so was he really cocky or just confident in his abilities? I can tell you that everything about Joe Namath was cocky. Cocky was part of his persona and his attitude right down to his nickname, and there were plenty of people who wanted to see Namath and the Jets fail so that they could watch him eat the cocky words. Right now, you’re thinking… great Jake, but how does a football history lesson help my company and me. Well, Joe Namath and my wife’s girlfriends reminded me of two things when it comes to being cocky or confident in our business or any other business. #1, your attitude and image speak for you long before you have a chance to say anything. #2, brides can be easily turned off or unimpressed by your attitude.
So how do we work around the cocky vs. confident problem? One sure way to turn off a bride is to come off as cocky. Yet, I don’t know too many DJs that are short in the confidence area. Lets face it, we didn’t decide to get on a stage with a microphone in front of strangers every weekend because we think we suck and don’t want people to notice us; we are all on the verge of cocky. I’ve talked about first impressions, and the importance of making the right first impression. First impressions are not just about a clean shirt and good breath, first impressions are about attitude. Have you ever gone to a retail store to shop for something and when the sales person approached you, you thought there is no way I am gonna buy something from this guy? He probably had the wrong attitude, came off as cocky or arrogant, and turned you off.
One sure way to spot the cocky DJ, he is the over critical DJ who is better than everyone else, sees no need to improve, change or adapt to changing trends because he’s the best, and nothing is ever his fault. You may have met him and his buddies at a recent convention. Bad attitude has no room for improvement. Does this describe you or anyone you know?
Part of what makes us great is our attitude, what does your attitude say about you? Are you trustworthy and reliable or arrogant and conceited? We live in an ever-changing world and business climate. Evolution is not just history…. It’s reality. To stay on top, get to the top, or simply strive to be better, ask yourself… What do you do that sets you apart? Why are you better? Who is better than you? What can you do better or improve? What can you offer or teach other so they can be better?
Remember, Confident not cocky.
Jake Palmer can be reached at

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