Why Being PUBLICLY Vulnerable Can Dramatically Advance Your Online Career

Fuck fuck fuck. It’s been a long ass time since my last post, but I’m back into my groove.

I want to write about an interview that changed the way I look at my brand and career, and I think the following story can also dramatically change the way YOU handle your online presence.

A few weeks ago,  I listened to an interview on Endingthegrind.com

Steve, the owner of the site, is a family guy who’s stuck in a 9-5 and wants to get out ASAP. He interviewed famed bloggess Penelope Trunk to get some tips on living and working on one’s own terms.

The first 10 mins were standard stuff. A typical interview you have witnessed a 1000 times. But in the middle the game changed, and the shit hit the fan. In fact, the shit wasn’t hitting the fan, it was hitting a fucking Harrier Jet TURBINE.

Penelope Trunk turned the interview around – instead of HER answering the questions from the interviewer Steve, she started asking questions, and boy, were they uncomfortable. She claimed that Steve had no real vision of leaving his dead-end job – that he’d lack any specific goals. With each passing minute, she was getting down his throat, putting him in a deadlock and exposing him online.

I said to myself: Jeez, this guy is getting torn apart on his own podcast. Penelope Trunk was like a rocket launcher, piercing thin-armored and unprepared Steve with multiple rounds and hitting all of them. Bang. Bang. Baaaaannng.

I almost wanted to stop listening, but I couldn’t, because it was SOOO compelling. Unlike any other boring interview, this one evoked real DRAMATIC emotion, like a good Hollywood flick.

Steve could have just quit the interview without EVER publishing it. It felt embarrassing after all. But he didn’t. He decided to put up the podcast for the whole wide world to witness.

Stupid choice ? No. Not all. It was actually the SMARTEST thing he could have done.

Here’s why:

We human creatures CRAVE emotions. That’s why Hollywood blockbusters like Forrest Gump  reap hundred of MILLION DOLLARS – they’re like crack for our souls and we want MORE.

Goood (personal) branding is ALL about creating emotional experiences for your customers and CONNECTING with them. The more vulnerable and honest a person or product, the stronger the emotional response. When Steve got ripped apart, we got the true sense of his current situation – we saw his vulnerable side and it was compelling like crack.

Think about it – how much emotional bonding do you create when you show us your pitch-perfect, cleaner-than-slick seemingly IMPECCABLE side ?

Come on, we both know the answer.

The reason why Steve’s podcast was so COMPELLING and successful ( it attracted hundreds of comments and what’s more important, it literally changed his life & goals) is because it was DRAMATIC – it showed us the “negative” side – the imperfect side of an interview seemingly gone wrong. It was RAW and authentic.

And that’s what CONNECTS your brand with your audience – being RAW and authentic. Here’s what this means for you:

Reveal yourself (and your stats)

Some people tend to reveal their monthly income, right down TO THE LAST penny. That’s a pretty brave thing to do (especially if it’s near zero), but that openness also WOWS your audience. It takes guts and some well-grown BALLS (women, choose what ever word you find appropriate here) to SHOW THAT TO THE WORLD. In a world where it’s EASY to manipulate the numbers and hide behind avatars, it’s comforting to see someone showing us his cards.

If you don’t feel like showing us your income online, use other metrics. Show people how many sales you actually made. Show us how many people visit your site. Or even mention how many didn’t turn up for an event that you thought WOULD dominate. 

Everyone admires the brave, no one cheers for the coward.

Enjoy bathing in the crossfire of people’s opinions (or: invite the haters)

It would have been an easy (and ) understandable for Steve to NOT publish the interview, because who likes to publicly show oneself getting torn apart by his own interviewees ?

If people criticize and maybe even expose you , it’s tempting to go dictatorship style and censor anyone who disapproves of you. Well, you shouldn’t. Only showing what approves of your brand is safe and feels fake. We know there’s shadow behind your sun. Instead of denying it and waiting for your audience to find out about it (they will), be the first one to break the news. When people disagree , leave it and don’t get rid of it. Or better: Approach that opinion with arms wide open and be 100% frank about it.

You will draw people even closer to you, because you show that you are just as human (and imperfect ) as they are.

Share the yin and yang

“Look how much I succeed. Wow, my traffic TRIPLED, everything’s GOING GREAT I’M SOON GOING TO BE A BLOG MILLIONAIRE..MUAHAHAHA.”

Listen, we know you’re full of shit. Nobody CONSTANTLY hits the target with every single shot. A lot of them totally miss the target, and that’s fine. Instead of JUST showing the moments where you hit the target, show us when (and why) you missed. “Learning from failure” is not just a boring-ass saying, it’s true as well. And very captivating coming from an authentic person.

(pardon my German)

Too many people online (heck, I’m one of them…errr…I USED TO BE !) only show success, because they think that failures weaken their presence. BULLshit with capital B. Everyone fails on their way to success, and showing that PUBLICLY helps you relate with your audience.

If you fuck up, don’t hide it. Show us your fuck-up. Tell us what you learned and show us the lesson. It’s compelling.


Wha-at ? So much openness and vulnerability may crack your ego – it certainly cracked mine (I’m still scraping some pieces off from my floor).

Listen, in the end, YOU decide how much you want to reveal online. No one’s pulling a shotgun up your neck and ordering you to reveal everything – you are the final choice maker. But remember – showing us your pitch-perfect robotic persona  (like 99% of the online peeps out there) isn’t helping you bond with your people. They want the FULL 3 dimensional package, with all the flaws, foibles and fuckups (that’s 3 M for you !). The more you reveal, the stronger your effect on people, even, or ESPECIALLY when YOU’re the one who’s in the crossfire.

Now, how will you reveal your “vulnerable” side ?

And please share this message with the people you care about !


  • Gizomatic

    Mars – Way to come back. Well-written post…sharp & polished. Funny, the topic is something I have been thinking about a lot lately.  People love authenticity & transparency (hate the word, haha) … throw some humility in there, and ya really got ’em. The fear factor that everyone faces is somehow lightened when we find that other’s share it too. And how the hell are we suppose to learn in this life if everyone walks around as a shiny-happy robot?

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Hey man,

      yeah, it went floating around my mind as well. It’s really tough (especially when you’re male) to show vulnerability) but since everything’s so distanced in our online world (meaning the PHYSICAL) distances, I believe it’s INCREDIBLE awesome and powerful to show your human side with ALL YOUR FOIBLES and weaknesses.

  • http://www.fitnessreloaded.com Maria

    Hi Mars! I’m relatively new to your site and I really like your content. Keep on!

    Got to listen to that podcast now…

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Well, Maria, you’re in for treat. 

      • http://www.fitnessreloaded.com Maria

        Hey just listened to it! I was shocked! Omg! Penelope’s pragmatism is amazing!

        You people reading this comment, go listen to that podcast! It is totally worth your time!

  • Steve

    Mars, it’s about damn time you gave us another post!!
    First off, thanks for the (dis) honorable mention here. As brutal as it was to receive, that interview opened my eyes to a world of possibilities.

    Yes, I got my ass handed to me and I was soooo not prepared for it. Honestly, I was in shock when she started calling me out and didn’t know how to react. The funny thing was I was trying to get her to stop talking about me specifically because I wanted to ask her more questions that I thought would be more beneficial to my listeners. I’m so glad she didn’t let me get back to that point…

    After the initial shock wore off and I called Marcus from The Sales Lion, I started seeing the interview as a gift instead of just a crazy woman going nuts on me.

    What really changed my thoughts and goals (or lack thereof) was all the fallout afterwords. People came out of the woodwork showing their support and offering advice. So many people said they say themselves in my shoes as I was getting manhandled on the call and it occurred to me just how impactful this really was.

    This was the real shit here and I’m definitely not too proud to post it unedited even though it was a bit embarrasing. When she asked for my salary, I was really hesitant to tell her, but then I realized that if I can’t even share that, how am I going to really connect with my readers.

    I learned an invaluable lesson (or five) with this and for what I’m trying to do with my blog, it’s all about being real, authentic, showing my weaknesses, and like you said, being vulnerable.

    I’ve been reading your stuff for a long while and while it is kick ass and inspiring, I’ve never seen any other side of you. All I see is balls to wall Mars. And maybe that’s how you are all the time, but it would definitely help build deeper relationships with your readers if you were to show us what else you are made of.

    You come across as a very driven, energetic, successful guy, but what else is there that we don’t see? How about all the struggles, doubts, and fears you have. I’m sure there are times when you don’t think you’ll succeed online and we’d like to hear about that.

    Anyway, it means a lot to me that this has affected you in such a powerful way and I’m looking forward to seeing what you’re going to do with it!

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Hey Steve, yeah,
      I’m going to show myself in a more 3d way now – because you’re right – it hasn’t be all success – HELL, there’s been endless failure and floating fears around as well – continuously. Thanx to your talk I’m going to make that jump  – more ups and downs coming within the next posts !

  • http://kevinpost.wordpress.com/ Kevin Post

    I am not a hardcore blogger and I might be getting off topic here but I think that there has to be a balance. I’ve read several successful and very popular travel blogs over the past year and it is amazing how negative these people can be and they always seem to be complaining. Maybe it’s all relative but these guys are making $5000 dollars a month which is a lot of money especially while traveling in South America or South East Asia; they are living like kings and doing what they ‘love’. I am making less than half of that by working two jobs 60 hours a week. I find it discouraging reading about someone’s problems that are so freaking minuscule. 

    Yes, I think that we should be open but not in a ‘teenage drama queen’ kind of way. Life is so fucking amazing and I think that reading complaints on successful blogs about how lonely they are on the road, how tired they are of a culture or how they hate how cold it is, is fucking absurd. I’ve stopped reading those blogs entirely but they still have thousands of followers. Now, if I were to read a blog entry along the lines of, “I love my life, I can’t believe how beautiful the world is around me. I’m just feeling a little down lately and need a break from the computer for a few days, I’m going to go off on a five day hike in the wilderness to clear my mind from this negativity I’m feeling…etc” I would have a lot of respect for that person. But this isn’t a common trend I find in the blog world I’m afraid.So Mars, keep doing what you’re doing and when times do get tough (which they will from time to time) feel free to share it with us BUT show us how you’ve risen above it and kicked its ass! 

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      haha, don’t worry Kevin, this won’t be a self-indulgent complain fest. I’m going to share more of my failures, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be whiney – I always want to leave people on a high – but sometimes you have to show the full spectacle to achieve that – like any GOOD Hollywood movie.

  • Sarah

    You are so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so brave.

    And right.

    And funny.

    Gosh that is a lot of good stuff.

    Thanks for the share on twitter – glad I found this article.  :-)

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Thnx Sarah – but I haven’t shared anything vulnerable yet ;)
      It’s yet to come – in a way that’s actually valuable to my audience.

  • Anonymous

    The key to success?  Fail more,

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Ralph Ralph Ralph,

      what a pleasure to see you here  – it has been a long, long time my friend ;)

  • http://www.chicagogaragebuilder.com Chicago Garage Builder

    A harrier jet engine spewing shit at mach 3, really… little graphic mental image but effective none the less. Its what makes us personable. Showing that we all want to be successful and happy but we aren’t all going to make it there at the same pace or even at all in some cases makes for a great underdog story and those are the tales that stay with you. Not the genetically perfect billionaire just got bail for a triple murder and the victims family apologized. Who would like that person? Nobody. Cheers. Welcome Back.

  • http://twitter.com/ITSergioFelix Sergio Felix

    Hey Mars,

    I first read Steve’s blog and listened to that Penelope Trunk interview before reading your post and everytime I remember that interview it feels like I’m the one being humiliated.
    I, like you, wanted to stop listening but I couldn’t, I just had to go through the whole thing and I’m glad I did.

    In the end I felt so angry but at the same time so motivated to actually make shit happen.

    That interview definitely changed my perception of online people and as a result from that, I already started showing the good, the bad and the ugly too.

    Great article man, really starting to love your site!


  • anyone

    Is here still anybody?

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      yesss ! New, kick-ass content coming soon. I have experimented a lot behind the scenes.

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