Is it okay to be vulnerable in business?

A favorite client of mine wrote the other day asking about my thoughts on showing vulnerability in business. She’d been reading a ebook by Lissa Rankin called, “How to Change the World.” In it, Rankin says,

“Speak your truth. The more you allow yourself to be vulnerable, the more you’ll discover the voice of your truth, raring to be heard. Once you get over the fear of rejection that accompanies being vulnerable, you’ll find you have much more to say—and you’ll find a whole boatload of people who are dying to listen.”

I very much agree with this.

But how far does it go?

At the same time, my client and I have had exchanges over the years about how far to go — do we air our dirty laundry in public? Are we being disingenuous if we leave things out? Are there entrepreneurs out there who just go too far and give too much information?

My client also asked a great question, “If I’m trying to decide what level of vulnerability I’m going to show my audience, does that defeat the purpose of it?”

Be real

I think it’s incredibly important to be real — that’s the only way we find our true voice, especially in writing and speaking.

It’s okay to be private too

And, as a sensitive person, it doesn’t work for me to share deeply personal information in public in the name of being authentic and transparent. I need and want to maintain a degree of privacy and personal space. On the other hand, I want you to know me, so you know what you get when you work with me. I agree with Lissa Rankin that the way to find your audience is by speaking your truth and being visible and public about what matters to you.

Where does this leave us?

So is it a question of degree?

Or timing?

Does it mean ALL the truth?

My solution

My solution is to write raw, first. When I’m ready to share something, I core-dump the messy truth with the aim of finding and sharing a message of hope within it. It’s a cathartic process often — I learn just as much through the writing of my thoughts as (I hope) you do from my sharing of them.

I also think it’s a question of timing. If I share the despair and pain I’m in with my audience while I’m going through it, it’s like watching a train wreck. If I share it with you after the fact, and what I’ve gained from my lessons and experiences, we all benefit.

Sometimes I’m able to hold the broader perspective while I’m going through something. If that’s true, I’ll share it at the time it’s happening. If not, I’ll wait (someday you’ll see some work from me around the early days of parenting as an HSP, but not yet. *Grin*)

Bottom line

The bottom line is:

  1. I don’t go into detail about personal things that are no one’s business but my own — and I don’t think that means I’m not being real, rather being private, and,
  2. I don’t go into detail about vulnerable things when I’m in the middle of it, unless I feel like I can share it in a way that benefits me and others.

This is the path I’ve found that works for me so far.

Your turn

What do you think? What works for you in this area? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.




Coming Attractions


~> October 4th. My next Life Purpose Breakthrough Group. SOLD OUT.

~> October 25th. Register by October 25th for the next 4-week session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle (starts October 29th). Looking to feel passionate again about your writing? You must write to get there:


What I'm Up To

~> Ongoing. Working on rewriting my script, Progeny, with my mentor Chris Soth after finishing the ProSeries.*

~> Sacred writing time. My schedule is in flux right now but I’m writing regularly nonetheless.

~> Reading: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows with my son — so close to finishing now! I think we’re going to read Eragon next. Or maybe Narnia, or The Belgariad. I can’t wait. I’m deeply enthralled by Homeland, finally saw the finale of Weeds (weird), and I’m so happy Castle is back on the air. *Grin*


* Affiliate link





Chris Guillebeau on “The $100 Startup”

Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity, world-wide traveler, and blogger extraordinaire, was kind enough to do a Q & A with me for your reading pleasure about his brand spanking new book,  The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future, which just came out last week.

Chris has hit the road and is on a 7-continent book tour to spread the message of his book.



Jenna: What’s the big message you want people to take away from the new book?

Chris: If you want to start a business, or even just create an additional source of income, the skills you already have are all you need.


Jenna: What’s your advice for people who want to start a business based on what they love but feel reluctant about marketing and promoting?

Chris: Stop thinking of it as marketing and promoting. Think of it as connecting; doing what feels natural while inviting others to join your cause.


Jenna: How do you stay true to your own creative vision? Does that come easily to you? Do you ever wander in the darkness about your vision? How do you find your way back out?

Chris: I constantly wander. But when I’m off-track, I feel antsy. I’m not afraid of making mistakes, but I’m afraid of giving up. So I just keep trying things.


Jenna: Have you experienced anything you would consider a failure? How did you recover from it and get back on track?

Chris: Many times, over and over. Several of my product launches haven’t gone the way I would like. I’ve gotten lost all over the world and been stuck without a way out of several countries.

The key is to: a) reduce the risk of failure, to where you’re much more likely to succeed, and b) reduce the cost of failure, so that if you fail, you can begin again soon.


Jenna: What are your writing habits like? Have you ever dealt with writer’s block?

Chris: I write 1,000 words a day, every day. Not everything is brilliant (in fact, most of it isn’t), but persistence is very important in any creative discipline.

“Writer’s block” is an imagined condition that allows you to enable your rationalization. Have you ever heard of plumber’s block? Of course not — so if you’re a writer, you just need to write.


Jenna: What do you suggest for people who have a vision to write a book but haven’t quite gotten started with it yet?

Chris: Well, the most important thing is to have a clear vision, so if you’ve got that far, you’re farther along than I was when I started. The next thing is to create a structure that allows you to work on completing the outline in bite-sized pieces every day for as long as it takes. If you get stuck, see the previous answer.


About The $100 Startup & Chris Guillebeau:

(Excerpted from the official blurb about the book)

“In The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau shows you how to lead a life of adventure, meaning and purpose — and earn a good living.

“Still in his early thirties, Chris is on the verge of completing a tour of every country on earth — he’s already visited more than 175 nations — and yet he’s never held a “real job” or earned a regular paycheck. Rather, he has a special genius for turning ideas into income, and he uses what he earns both to support his life of adventure and to give back.

“Here, finally, distilled into one easy-to-use guide, are the most valuable lessons from those who’ve learned how to turn what they do into a gateway to self-fulfillment. It’s all about finding the intersection between your ‘expertise’ — even if you don’t consider it such — and what other people will pay for.

“You don’t need an MBA, a business plan or even employees. All you need is a product or service that springs from what you love to do anyway, people willing to pay, and a way to get paid.

“This remarkable book will start you on your way.”

Buy the book on Amazon here.

Find out more at


Note: Amazon links are affiliate links.