How vulnerable are you in your business? 

Vulnerability is a word that gets thrown around quite a lot, particularly in business over the last few years. Brene Brown is probably one of names most commonly associated with vulnerability and if you haven’t watched any of her Ted talks or Netflix special, I highly recommend all of them!

She has spent years researching the topic and has ultimately concluded that you can’t have any deep connections, change or creativity without some level of vulnerability. At first, I thought this was quite a sweeping statement but the more I’ve thought about it and reflected on my own experiences, the more glaringly obvious it has become that she is spot on with that observation.

You can’t have any deep connections, change or creativity without some level of vulnerability.

So, I thought it would be worth sharing my journey with vulnerability, as an example of how it can change your life and your business.

Looking back, I probably wouldn’t have my business if I hadn’t made myself vulnerable 16 years ago. I was still at school, studying for my A-Levels and had a burning desire to work as a music journalist. As an avid bluegrass and country music fan, outlets to approach were thin on the ground back then but I had been reading Maverick for a long time and really respected the style of the magazine.

With no experience or journalism training, I decided to be brave and contacted the editor, Alan Cackett, asking whether there was any chance of writing for him. Although things have changed a bit now, at the time, having an 18-year-old be so passionate about music that can sometimes be considered a bit old-fashioned, was quite unusual. He said he’d love to have a younger writer on the team and he was willing to give me a chance.

Me with Keith Urban (2005)

I couldn’t believe it, I was absolutely delighted and I continued to write for him for a decade. I honed my writing skills, picked up work at two more magazines along the way and got to have some unbelievable experiences too – interviewing artists I had long admired, attending concerts and private film screenings, and even a trip to Nashville – the home of country music.

After I graduated from university, I took a job in finance. Not exactly what I’d originally had in mind but I’d worked for the company on and off since I was 16, during school and uni breaks and I liked the company, I was happy there. So happy in fact, I was still there seven years later!

If I’m really honest with myself, I may never have left. I was earning a good salary, had an easy commute, my colleagues were brilliant and there was generally a good vibe in the office, it was a nice place to work. Then my cousin called me to say a vacancy had come up where she worked in London, and she thought I’d be ideal for it.

It still wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing but it offered a chance to use my specialist knowledge of music, theatre and the arts, and she said it was quite common for people to move into other roles once they had a foot in the door.

The prospect of leaving a job where I had been so happy was truly terrifying. What if I hated it at the new place? What if I couldn’t move into a content / editorial role like my cousin predicted? What if the commute into the city really wasn’t worth it?

The prospect of leaving a job where I had been so happy was truly terrifying. What if I hated it at the new place? What if I couldn’t move into a content / editorial role like my cousin predicted? What if the commute into the city really wasn’t worth it?

Koala cuddles in Australia (2016)

In spite of those fears, I applied and I got the job. There is no doubt in my mind that my music journalism work helped to secure me the role and it most certainly helped when I moved sideways within the company to join the Content and Editorial team just a few months later. I was finally in a full-time role that allowed me to spend my days writing about the arts and creative pursuits that I loved.

The huge added bonus that came with that job was that the company was international and I got to travel a lot. I spent time working in San Francisco, Cape Town, Miami and Melbourne, all of which were wonderful opportunities I never imagined I would have.

Almost four years down the line at the end of 2016, my entire team was made redundant. It wasn’t necessarily a shock but it still stung and I realised I had a big decision to make – be more vulnerable than I ever had been before or start looking for a new job.

I decided it was now or never. If I wanted the freedom and flexibility I longed for with both time and location (after all that work abroad, I’d been bitten hard by the travel bug!), I had to take the risk of setting up my own business.

So, after a few months of reflection (and a quick holiday of course), I got to work on building the business I have today. It was and still is scary and there’s still a lot of work to do, but it’s so worth it, and I can trace it all back to the very first instance of vulnerability when I contacted Alan at Maverick. Without that initial opportunity to build my knowledge and writing skills, I quite possibly wouldn’t be where I am today. So, thank you Alan, for taking a chance on a young, passionate music fan.

The vulnerability journey hasn’t ended there though and neither should yours.

Once your business is up and running, you can’t just sit back and wait for people to come. Like Brene Brown says, it’s impossible to build true connections with people without vulnerability.

We’re living in an age where personal brands are dominating in so many industries and faceless businesses just don’t cut it like they used to. People buy from people and if you want proof of that, check out Chris Ducker. He’s another entrepreneur I look to for inspiration and he’s built his entire business around the power of personal branding.

That being said, I haven’t always been the greatest at taking my own advice but since I have started to, the difference has been HUGE!

We’re in an age where personal brands are dominating in so many areas and faceless businesses just don’t cut it like they used to.

Me and Hollie Ellis (2018)

I’m part of a few different business memberships and Facebook groups but I haven’t always been great at joining in. I’m what you’d call a bit of a ‘lurker’. I had a bad case of imposter syndrome and was worried that if I put myself out there more, in spite of having 16 years’ experience, someone might come along and say, ‘you know nothing, go away!’⠀

At the end of last year though, I decided that I wasn’t getting the full benefit of these amazing communities if I didn’t join. So, I started to post more, comment on other people’s posts, ask and answer questions and offer advice where I could etc.⠀

The result has been that I’ve had some lovely and interesting conversations and met (sometimes virtually, sometimes in-person), some great people including Daisy Schubert, Hollie Ellis, Becky Stanton, Joshua Wyborn, Osmaan Sharif and Catherine Berry.

But the thing that really took me by surprise was that someone I have followed and admired for quite a while, also had me on their radar.⠀

Lisa Johnson came to me when her mastermind group was struggling with content repurposing and as a result, she asked me to create a checklist for them and do a live training with them.⠀

I must admit, when she first approached me, my inner fan-girl freaked out and was SO excited!! Once I’d calmed down though, I realised that if I hadn’t taken part in groups more (including hers), she probably wouldn’t know I exist.⠀

Not only did I get a MAJOR confidence boost that someone like Lisa would want to work with me, but I’m also getting an amazing opportunity to flex my teaching muscles and meet another group of awesome entrepreneurs.

The moral of this story?⠀

Get out there, be brave and join in!

If you’re unsure of how you can be more vulnerable, here are 5 really easy ways to break the ice: