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I’ve just come off Chris Kenworthy’s first (of many) Subvert your Serious Side workshops for our community, The Happy Startup School. Here’s an invitation for a free month’s membership to THSS from me. You’re welcome.

Our community provides an extremely (not just lip-service) safe space to do some serious self-exploration.

It also provides a bit of an existential roller-coaster, in collaboration with the likes of Ben Johnson of Ten Percent Better (“The Buddha in the Boardroom… Meditations on managing, selling, creating and doing) under the guise of ‘pricing courses’. Without these invitations to consider what really is the value that you offer your customers — get honest, open and reflective, one is left “pricing by the hour”… in other words, keeping customers and colleagues at bay in terms of true connection and understanding of value exchange.

Another fellow Happy Startuper is Beccie D’Cunha, who writes about Vulnerability in her latest blog post. Beccie talks about it as “moving towards the fire”, saying that it is

“the best — and only — way to resolve conflict and to build strong relationships. Skirting around the toughest issues leads to lukewarm relationships (at best) and mediocre teams (or worse).”

And then there’s how vulnerability can play out with one-self…

How can we think about this ‘moving towards the fire’ as a self-growth tool? Chris Kenworthy invites us, whilst holding us, to pick apart our serious side, moving towards the fire that is self-doubt, your authentic self, how you think others see you, and the worst version of yourself. He goes one step further, inviting people to invite others to further pick them apart. The exposure, self deprecation, banter, mirroring and partner-slating that went on in Chris’s workshop doesn’t feel dangerous at all… because of the mutual respect and space dedicated to this exercise, allowing role-play, creativity, authenticity and refreshing self-doubt exposure to occur. And guess what?? We are all quite similar!! One fellow community member in the workshop brilliantly suggested that another session could invite us to create the caricature that was the worst version of ourselves and then focus on flipping that villain into the extreme hero version, which I imagine would be a very valuable confidence-boosting exercise, and one that I think Chris is considering for the next installment. Watch this space!

Beccie D’Cunha says, “Only through moving towards the difficult conversations, the painful emotions, the feedback we’re dreading, can we build open, courageous, creative, resilient teams”… It is never comfortable to do this. But it’s in this discomfort that we often experience the deepest learning, growth and connection, to ourselves and to others.”

One successful entrepreneur I know, Nonie White, regularly publicises two memorable ‘failures’ on her part, which spiralled her toward what is now a very happy business model. Endearingly, she uses this emoji 🙈 in a recent communication about it, which reminds us that we are not the only ones that feel like the monkey shielding our eyes in the hope that no-one can see us.

Read Beccie’s full blog to find out what she did last week for the first time, which felt exposing to her, in an effort to market her ‘Courageous Leaders’ programme. The doors for the programme have now closed to applicants, having reached a ‘goal number’ for Beccie, but you can download Beccie’s free guide to ‘Building Team Resiliencehere.

I’ve been invited by Garry Turner, ‘The Vulnerability Guy’ to be a guest on his Right Here, Right Now Channel on the 28th June. Garry is a prevalent podcaster, Clubhouser, leader and adviser, who celebrates vulnerability and champions what he calls, “progressive, inside-out change”. I will be bringing my number 1 Vulnerability Game Face but also I will be bringing some boundaries, mirrors and code words for myself — and will be framing my vulnerability within the constraints that are the time that we have to talk and within a bigger picture of what the vulnerability agenda is for me. I love talking to Garry — because every time I do, something new emerges. My process is that I need to articulate in order to find meaning (thank you Carlos Saba!), and with Garry I have fantastically intimate and personal chats that are (usually!) toward grand, systemic change and putting the world to rights. I think this is why vulnerability is so exciting.

In his daily blog, Seth Godin posts today that, “We can’t possibly know precisely what’s inside the book or the box or the bottle before we buy it for the first time. We take meds or go to the movies in anticipation of an outcome, and we give the producer the benefit of the doubt (or we don’t go, because the doubt is too much for us to handle.)”

Here, I invite you to buy (into) and then have a good old look /root around in the box. By all means anticipate the outcome but do think about ‘going there’ all the same. If you are in the right company, you can handle the doubt and what might well jump out of the box. It might even make you laugh.

My bag (box or bottle) is helping you with your marketing... It’s my job to help you face your fears about getting yourself out there, which might involve a degree of vulnerability. But I truly believe that marketing, therefore, can be (another fucking) path to self-growth (or, “AFPTSG” as Carlos Saba calls it). Smiling at your fears is one of my tools.

If you want to read more about facing your fears and being vulnerable (and to learn something interesting about Michael Palin), visit Chris at his blog post about A powerful antidote to fear you’ve known your whole life.

You might be feeling the fear about being vulnerable about something with someone with whom you collaborate / have been working with for a long time. If so, watch this — the generous gift of Happy Startup Founders, Laurence and Carlos, who are asked by Beccie, and ask themselves, if they actually make good co-founders.

In fact right now, Simon Batchelar and I are collaborating toward a very exciting (daunting??!) new venture together. We’ve only known each other for a short time, but — thanks to being able to talk honestly and openly to each other about what working together can /needs to / might look like — we are able to imagine a very fruitful working relationship and friendship whilst providing coaches with a community and a course to work through so that they may learn how to — and then actually to do — excellent marketing and also feel safe to talk about, explore, work with and celebrate how marketing makes them feel — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Next week, Simon and I will be speaking to Lucy Mullins on Clubhouse (are people still on Clubhouse?!?!), who is both a Coach and Coaching Trainer and also runs a quite separate business. Please join us, to hear more about what that separate business is and to hear Lucy talking honestly and openly about her work-life balance.

And finally, why not challenge yourself to a vulnerability-off with a fellow honesty-celebrator, such as can be witnessed here, between the queen of transparency, Karen Webber who so kindly referenced me in her latest newsletter for championing honesty with myself about my marketing focus. In this instance, it’s about FOMO and not just jumping on the bandwagon… To you, Karen!

In the Happy Startup School, we look at, for example, how ‘Surrender’ can be funny. Equally, I invite you to think about how vulnerability can be empowering.



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Frances Khalastchi

Frances Khalastchi

Co-Founder at Better Bolder Braver — Marketing training and support that empowers coaches.