My good mate Chris asked me a fair question the other day about my comment on vulnerability vs. authenticity. He went on to eloquently articulate his story. My answer to his question went like this.
When it comes to vulnerability and authenticity there is a murky bit in the middle of the two but for purposes of clarity….
Authenticity is largely a question of delivery and presentation. I am authentic because of how I am and how I express myself. Authentic people can also be not particularly nice at times (Donald Trump).
Vulnerability is about what I choose to disclose, say and do.
Most leaders fail on vulnerability because they won’t speak the truth or express themselves out of fear of shame, embarrassment or consequence.
Until organisations embrace and encourage vulnerability how can real conversations happen? Why would a leader speak openly on platforms like Yammer or Chat? They’d rather continue to hide behind closeted meetings, 1:1 emails and all kinds of corporate pretense…. And they can do all of that being authentic, but being very selective about what they talk about and to who. Rarely do you ever see who our leaders actually are…
Then I read this. The honesty and vulnerability on an issue that affects us all is profound. What Brad says requires an enormous acceptance of vulnerability – and then expression of it. How he does it is authentic.
Q: How much does the issue of mental health differ in startups from the world at large?
A: In general, I don’t know. But leaders and entrepreneurs are programmed to “never show weakness”, so I expect there’s much more pressure to keep it hidden and suppressed, which if you’ve ever been depressed, can make things much worse.
Read the whole story. It’s time for a new dialog – specifically on the issue of depression – one that embraces vulnerability and authenticity.
Link to a conversation I had over at the CMO Show…
In between a mountain of work I’ve been popping in and out of the Marketo User Conference in San Francisco. One of the words that keeps being used is “moments”. It seems that it is the “moment for moments”.
Adam Bain (the Twitter Adam) was the first person I heard speak about the importance of moments to marketers. It struck me as really important in the context of Twitter – that is what we do on Twitter, express the moments that matter around us.
Marketo is clearly building on this idea (maybe without knowing of Adam and Twitter’s use of the phrase – which is OK). How do we use marketing automation platforms – and marketing in total to drive customer engagement – to create moments in which customers experience our products and new kinds of value are created. And, how do we manage the moments that aren’t going to plan.
Couple of other big thought-starters so far:
- Most large marketing teams are really struggling to build marketing operations capability that reflect their scale. For businesses like Xero, we nail this early and fast. Without a strong marketing operations capability, you can’t win in a marketing technology centric world.
- SMB as a phrase should be entirely eliminated. There are small businesses and then there are medium businesses. They are no more similar than MLB – medium large businesses. Lets stop characterizing them as the same when they aren’t.
- Marketers should never assume that the role of marketing is understood – or that it is a cookie-cutter of what the exec team did somewhere else. Great brands are building amazing customer momentum with no marketing. MyfitnessPal got to 45 million users with no marketing – but now marketing plays a vital role in driving engagement.
- Engagement will be a key marketing activity, if it isn’t already. For the past decade marketing automation has driven focus to acquisition – how many funnel diagrams have you seen that stop at win/loss. Those same platforms are now being turned to focus on engagement and how won customer become addicts and advocates.
- Employees are a squandered marketing resource. How do we build amazing employee referral systems that turn every employee into not just an advocate but an active acquirer of customers.
- Engaged leaders are vulnerable. Read Charlene Li’s book and check out Brene Brown. Had a great conversation with Charlene Li on why I think authenticity isn’t a great thing to ask for (people can often be authentically awful) when the central cultural barrier in organisations is a lack of vulnerability.
More to come…. your thoughts?