Transparency and Weaknesses Build Strong Businesses

Look at the news on any given day and you will find some sort of PR nightmare taking place. Each day there is a new one. From airlines to restaurants, many businesses are looking to take control of a situation by spinning a story to make themselves look better.


What if a business or a single human being just said "hey we messed up?” No blame games. No excuses. No scapegoats. What if we all just took responsibility for each action that we take by makinge our weaknesses known and asking for help when it is needed? What if being completely transparent every step of the way helps us strengthen our businesses? And what if we view our weaknesses and missteps as an opportunity to grow and learn instead of pointing fingers?


If you are a business owner reading this then I challenge you to go to your communications team and ask them how, as a team, you can be more transparent? How can we share our story? The hard work. The struggles. The snafus. Air your dirty laundry out for all to see—you may be surprised by the outcome. Share those lessons with others, so that they learn from your mistakes (aka opportunities).


Since the topic of this post is transparency, I would like to share a personal story with you t. At the age of five I was diagnosed with dyslexia, ADD/ ADHD, and several other learning disabilities, as the school system put it. As a child, none of this made any sense to me. None of it was really explained to me. No one told me what it meant; I just knew that I was different, and that during certain subjects I needed to go to another classroom and during those awful standardized tests, I went to a special room where time did not matter.


Throughout my school years all I wanted to be was the same as all the other students. I would try to hide these gifts. Gifts, by the way,  is a much better word than disabilities. Thank you Peter Shankman for leading the charge in changing the verbiage!


But back to the story! I didn’t want to be different. I thought these were things that I could change with hard work and determination. That, perhaps, I could outgrow this thing. I tried the pills that were supposed to help my mind slow down but they were so not my jam.


Then as I was entering the workforce after college, I got scared. What if I got found out? That was when I learned how to monitor my caffeine intake. I’m one of those people that caffeine has an opposite effect on; it slows me down instead of giving me a buzz. It helps me concentrate and focus on what is in front of me.


A few years into my career, I had a boss pull me aside, and tell me that he thought I was dyslexic. I broke down crying. My secret was out, and I thought I was out of a job. Instead he wanted to help me. It was in that moment that I realized I was keeping a secret that was ultimately causing me more stress, instead of just embracing it and learning some great tricks of the trade.


Want to know why I choose the font that I do? For those with dyslexia, Arial is a lot easier to read. There are also some great apps that can be downloaded right to your desktop like Grammarly. Do I still make spelling mistakes? Yes, every day! But I created a system and a team of people to help me decrease this number. Is it the end of the world if I have a typo? Most of the time no because I can fix it.


That is the key, you can fix it. You can apologize for the mistake, no excuse, just an apology and make the change. I’ll own up to a typo, but I try to limit the occurrences in making them in the first place. Instead I find ways to slow my mind down.


I drink one cup of coffee when I first wake up. I run and workout for around two hours every morning to burn off some of my energy, so that I can sit down and produce killer work for my clients. I drink more coffee when I get to the office, and if I didn’t run far enough that morning, I’ll treat myself to a third cup.


Would I be working for myself if I didn’t have these gifts or learn these lessons? I don’t know. What lessons or life experiences do you have that helped get you to where you are today? What have you been hiding from your audience?  


I love this quote from an interview Richard Branson did with Business Insider.


“If you have a learning disability, you become a very good delegator. Because you know what your weaknesses are and you know what your strengths are, and you make sure that you find great people to step in and deal with your weaknesses.


And whether you are dyslexic or not, I think delegation is such an important thing for a good leader to be good at doing. Too many leaders want to cling onto everything themselves and do everything themselves and never let go.”


So this is my story. This is me being transparent about how I work. These so-called weaknesses built a determination within my soul that has helped me achieve launching two businesses, running marathons, and doing whatever I set my mind to next. How does being transparent help you achieve your goals?