The Power of Vulnerability in Business, Part 2

Posted in All, Modern Business

“Oh no, there’s this person on my team I’ve been working with for five years and she doesn’t know this important part of me!” worried Sara.

(Last week, we shared excerpts from our founder Sara’s interview on vulnerability. Here’s some important backstory – a “real world” example of the power of vulnerability.)

This concern ran through Sara’s mind when she came home from Owner Camp, the retreat for digital/creative studio owners. While there, Carl Smith had asked her to be interviewed about vulnerability in the near future. She had disclosed her sobriety and instigated a really authentic group discussion at Owner Camp.

Now home, Sara immediately scheduled a call for first thing the next morning with this member of her team. She shared about her 7 years of recovery on that call.

Later that morning, we had our regular call with the Command C team. Sara told us about her great experience at Owner Camp and shared about her disclosure to the other professionals there. She expressed that authenticity was important for all of us. We then each shared our thoughts on authenticity and vulnerability. Fortunately, we discovered we were on the same page and have similar hopes for our team relationships.

It was a very honest team call. It led to this Slack message a short while later from our project manager lead Amanda. We began an important conversation on Slack, shared below:

amanda [12:14 PM] Folks – question for the group. I just said ‘Hi guys’ in a Basecamp message (to Tif and Rachel). Does it feel like that’s an exclusionary way to address a group? Tif, I know you say it too, and from my perspective it’s not gendered.. but I’ve worked in places where that’s actually not an ok thing to say. Thoughts on that? Happy to stop, and hope I haven’t offended anyone. I saw this [picture below] on twitter recently and was reminded that I wanted to check in about that.

Screen Shot of the Slackbot suggesting alternatives to "guys, men, dudes"

sarabacon [12:14 PM] Thank you.
[12:14] Everytime i say “guys”, i cringe
[12:14] but it also comes super naturally

melissa [12:15 PM] Thank you for asking, it bothers me a lot

amanda [12:15 PM] oh great! glad i asked!

melissa [12:15 PM] I was thinking about saying something to you about it Sara

sarabacon [12:15 PM] cool, thanks for speaking up

melissa [12:15 PM] thank you for checking in on it.

sarabacon [12:15 PM] both of you

tiffanyak [12:15 PM] Yes. Thank you for bringing up
12:15] I am guilty of that one a lot

melissa [12:15 PM] my daughter’s school is working on it, so are elementary schools around here

sarabacon [12:15 PM] melissa, can you throw out some suggestions?

melissa [12:16 PM] there are professional workplaces now starting to work on it

tiffanyak [12:16 PM] And will do my best to extract it…feel free to gently remind me if I miss it

sarabacon [12:16 PM] i know you use “yall”

melissa [12:16 PM] yes! actually there is a great article
[12:16] let me find.
[12:16] y’all
[12:16] you all

amanda [12:16 PM] check the link above

melissa [12:16 PM] you two, everybody, etc.

tiffanyak [12:16 PM] YINZ

amanda [12:16 PM] ^^PGH^^

sarabacon [12:16 PM] Yinz!
[12:17] never even ever heard that

tiffanyak [12:17 PM] For real, I probably won’t say yinz
[12:17] EVER

sarabacon [12:17 PM] @amanda: that’s great – thank you

tiffanyak [12:17 PM] but i will definitely work on getting rid of “hey guys” I also use “dude” sometimes as well, but usually not in that context

melissa [12:17 PM] This is worth the read VOX:

Why I’m finally convinced it’s time to stop saying “you guys”
A jar where you put in $1 each time you say "guys"
It’s obviously inaccurate when addressing a mixed-gender group. But I learned it has other consequences, too.
June 11th, 2015 at 12:40 PM
[12:18] good list @amanda

sarabacon [12:18 PM] when you get the chance, listen to episode 005:

amanda [12:18 PM] Ok, thanks team. I’ll be working on it.. probably won’t be an overnight change! Apologies in advance bc I know I’ll say it.

melissa [12:18 PM] ok will do.

sarabacon [12:19 PM] yeah, i think the key is for us to be mindful of it and also mindful that we’re all human!

melissa [12:19 PM] Team, thanks for checking in on the language

sarabacon [12:19 PM] gentle reminders welcomed across the board

melissa [12:19 PM] I still catch myself saying it too, I think it’s about trying

tiffanyak [12:19 PM] Yes, please. I also apologize in advance, but promise I”ll be trying

sarabacon [12:19 PM] Trying!

amanda [12:20 PM] Before I quit my last job I had a manager that used the ‘R’ word all the time. It was so awful (and she was so great otherwise). It wasn’t the kind of place where I could bring it up, but it was very upsetting.
[12:20] so i’m happy to be having this conversation

sarabacon [12:20 PM] OMG: i’m obsessed with you 3 right now.

melissa [12:20 PM] I AM SO GLAD WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THIS (sorry for yelling)

tiffanyak [12:21 PM] yes..thank you…the R word was the first thing I thought of..I make faces when I hear that one…I’m not even good at hiding it

melissa [12:21 PM] what’s the R word?

sarabacon [12:21 PM] high fives all around!

melissa [12:21 PM] I’m ignorant

sarabacon [12:22 PM] developmentally disabled

melissa [12:23 PM] oh yeah, that’s not good at ALL
[12:23] pretty uncommon now

sarabacon [12:23 PM] i still hear it

melissa [12:23 PM] really?

sarabacon [12:23 PM] yes

melissa [12:24 PM] wow

tiffanyak [12:24 PM] yeah..oh my…wow…
[12:24] i still hear it

amanda [12:24 PM] yea, i hear it and then immediately think less of people who say it. which also isn’t totally fair
[12:24] i need to be better about speaking up

melissa [12:24] it’s hard to speak up sometimes

sarabacon [12:24 PM] yeah. totally.

melissa [12:25 PM] i get called a “guy” a lot and sometimes, if I know the person, I’ll say “I’m not a guy” – and my daughter will too – but other times it feels too scary
[12:26] I only really noticed once I had a daughter and was thinking of the messages she gets being called a guy often (like at the YMCA)

sarabacon [12:26 PM] yeah. and i’ve hit the point where it used to devastate me and now i even take subtle pleasures in it when it happens (which is often). WHICH is to say that we all have different relationships to these things and i love the idea of having these conversations openly and all being aligned in being more mindful. thank you all so so much.

amanda [12:27 PM] woot.

melissa [12:27 PM] yes, agreed, thank you. I think this is exactly what you were talking about this morning [on the team call]


Hear more about The Story of the Yinz and the power of vulnerabilty at Episode 007 of the Bureau Briefing.

We view our Slack conversation as a direct result of Sara creating an environment that welcomes people to speak up and be themselves.

What has been the result of this conversation?

  • More connected team members who can communicate about delicate issues
  • Happier individuals who are integrating personal and work life
  • A Slackbot who will correct us if we use the word “guys” with each other
  • The word “yinz” is now frequently used – a small reminder of our common goal

We aim for open communication and vulnerability with our clients as well. If you think we might be a good match for your needs, let’s talk.