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The Courage To Be Imperfect: Brené Brown

Martin W. Smith March 18, 2013

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown book on Atlantic BT blog

Daring Greatly

This post is about understanding the courage required to be a great Internet marketer in the age of what author Seth Godin calls our Connection Economy. Connection and collaboration keep coming up at core to understanding how marketing and marketers are changing. This post builds on previous posts on Atlantic BT’s Blog, ScentTrail Marketing, New Media Leaders, Mark Traphagen’s writing, Phil Buckley’s posts and David Amerland’s posts on Help My Seo.

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Brené Brown The Power of Vulnerability TED Video

Tyranny of Perfection

How vulnerable are you? How vulnerable is your company? We marketers are wrestling with a newness, an intimacy and need for shared authenticity our marketing mentors can’t understand. In A Rocker, A Brand Doctor and Give and Ask at TED rocker Amanda Palmer discussed our need to ASK without shame.

Here researcher Brené Brown author of Daring Greatly discusses the “secret” of personal mental health. Brown found that the common trait shared by the “happy” people in her research was a single belief. The people most willing to be vulnerable believed they deserved to be loved and that willingness to be vulnerable was casual to their well being. It is as if once we believe we are worthy all kinds of good things can happen because we are that much more likely to be vulnerable and so become great.

The ante for GREATNESS is our belief in our own worthiness for love, support and connection. Should we apply Brown’s research to companies trying to be successful in a age of connection? A: Yes.

Is Your Company Kind?

Brown’s research relates to a post I wrote for ScentTrail Marketing over the weekend (The Kindness of Strangers and the New Internet Marketing).That post asked a simple yet complex question. Is your company kind? I created a 10 question Company Kindness Quiz to help answer the question.

The “leap of faith” between Brown’s research and the Buddhist monk Pema Chodron’s teaching is that to be a successful company in Godin’s  Connection Economy means embracing a previously uncomfortable imperfection. Vulnerability is required to become a great company in an Internet age.

Vulnerability is created in every Internet marketing action and reaction. Becoming a great Internet marketer means accepting this truth:

Being a great Internet marketer means there is NO AVOIDING an ever escalating social vulnerability.

Vulnerability = Connection, Perfection = Isolation

Perfectionism is a disease we all may have at one point or another to some greater or lesser degree. There are malignant problems with perfection in our Connection Economy.

Tyranny of Perfection, Perfection Is…

  • Too slow.
  • Not aligned with what is happening NOW.
  • Lacking wisdom of crowds (or not enough).
  • To exclusive.
  • Lacking in ROI.
  • Not community based.
  • Not fun.

To be a “perfectionist” is to mistrust contributions from others. No one creates anything alone anymore. Our connection economy is too complex and moves too fast. We must create in teams or not create at all. Teams require sacrifice and vulnerability. We’ve all been members of “teams” that were really task master controlled whipping posts, experiences no one wants to have again and we will be increasingly less likely to be required to suffer through.

The top down, highly controlled team is a a dinosaur being made extinct by the speed and the wisdom of crowds nature and active consumption of our emerging connection economy. Yet only days ago Best Buy’s new CEO crushed their innovative Results Only Work Environment (ROWE as if that was Best Buy’s problem), but foolish exceptions only prove the strength of an emerging rule. As I wrote in Why Big Ideas Will Rule For New Media Leaders, in a time of connection and infinite choice we buy from those we LOVE and who are capable of loving us.

We work for connection. We buy connection. Connection is the engine behind why some companies such as Tough Mudder scale quickly to $100M while lack of connection and social relevance causes established and once loved brands such as Hostess and Borders file for bankruptcy protection.

Being a great Internet marketer means there is NO AVOIDING an ever escalating social vulnerability.

Why Perfection Doesn’t Scale

In the long run I like Quirky’s chances better than Apple’s. Quirky exposes its product development engine fully using wisdom of crowds producing products with built in demand. Apple’s brilliance is supplemented by their developer ecosystem, but Apple exerts a “tyranny of perfection” over their apps.

The chaotic hive-like emergence of open source is why Platforms are crushing websites. Those companies who trust the “sentient mob” accepting the need to share, include and reward User Generated Content (UGC) will climb to the top of our new marketing Everest faster. Summiting our connection economy’s new marketing’s Everest provides more than an amazing view.

Making it to the top of the connection economy’s Everest means a company has the processes and people necessary to make such a climb. Perfection doesn’t scale because teams who learn how to be vulnerable, authentic and inclusive get better at climbing faster. While the “perfection” team is sitting in base camp those teams courageous enough to share, listen and build on what they learn have mastered Everest and are in search of new challenges.

Challenge is the fuel that a high performance Internet marketing teams can’t have enough of because their courage demands MORE and AGAIN.

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