I want to talk about being vulnerable with the people in your life — your friends, your family members, your audience, your clients, your customers, etc. I also want to relate this to Mario Kart, which will hopefully make sense in a bit. The point of this blog post is to talk about the science of vulnerability, and how powerful it can be in making connections in your life, whether that be personally or professionally. Vulnerability can’t exist with shame, it doesn’t necessarily mean crying, and it’s a powerful connector. When it comes to business, it’s truly been the secret sauce for me (or my super mushroom). Though it can be hard to balance oversharing with being vulnerable, it’s important to make that distinction in order to protect yourself and to avoid pushing others away. 

The Science of Vulnerability

I’ve been obsessed with this concept lately and I still don’t feel like I totally have it dialed in in terms of how to explain it perfectly. I went to The Bahamas a while back for a Mastermind group. A Mastermind is basically a conference where everyone in the room is doing cool stuff, and they get up and talk about it for about 30 minutes. Then, you get to present something cool that you’re doing and you get to ask for feedback from everyone else on things you’re struggling with. So it’s a really good way to share ideas. 

At the Masterclass I was going to talk about Pinterest, because my team was killing it on the Pinterest front, getting 2 million unique views a month almost for free, so we don’t have to do paid traffic or anything. I was going to talk about that. But when I was on a boat, and as I was talking with everybody else there, I started to realize that there was something more important to talk about. A lot of people, especially in the Internet marketing space, know me as the vulnerability person. I spoke on stage last year about the power of vulnerability. I feel like vulnerability is kind of a buzzword right now. A lot of people are talking about being vulnerable and being authentic. I’ve always just kind of naturally done that. That’s just the way that I communicate. 

So what I’ve been trying to do lately is I’ve really been digging deep into the science of connection and vulnerability and I’ve been reading a lot of research and I wanted to share with you guys some of the cool stuff I’ve learned, because for me it helps me with my business. Even if you don’t have a business, these are the exact same things that helped me with friendships and connecting with other people. It’s helpful with your relationship with your spouse, being able to have hard conversations, or to talk about the things that people don’t usually talk about. 

I always say when I’m the one being vulnerable, it makes me feel small and scared. But to everybody else around you, it makes you look brave and strong and courageous. I’ve been reading a lot of research from Brené Brown. If you guys haven’t heard of Brené Brown yet, you need to go watch her Ted Talk. Her work literally changed my life, both personally and professionally. So at the Mastermind in The Bahamas, I started talking about the science of vulnerability. You learn that shame and vulnerability are opposites of each other. They’re like oil and water — they can’t exist together. I had this big whiteboard and I drew a line down the middle of the whiteboard and on the left I wrote “shame” with an arrow going down. On the right I wrote “vulnerability” with an arrow going up. What the research shows is that the more vulnerable you are with either your audience or your friends or the people around you, the less shame can even exist. 

Shame, Crying, and Making a Connection

So what’s shame? Shame is the belief that you’re not good enough. That belief that you’re not capable of change, and the belief that you don’t belong. Those are all things that define shame. So what I’ve really been digging deep into is, if I look back at all my successful videos or programs or anything I’ve done that has had the best response, it wasn’t the perfect stuff. It wasn’t the videos where my hair and makeup were done perfect. It wasn’t the cookbook that had the perfect recipes. It was the things that were a little imperfect, that showed the reality. All of my successes were around topics that were infused with a little bit of vulnerability. 

My Abs, Core, and Pelvic Floor program talks about peeing your pants after having a baby. That’s not something people usually talk about. I had a video that went really viral on Facebook a couple of years ago, where I showed my stretched skin after babies. I found that usually when I connect the most with people, it’s when I pull back the curtain and start talking about real, raw, honest topics. So I started digging a little deeper into the science of shame and vulnerability. 

A lot of people think vulnerability means crying. I rarely cry. I mean, I’ve maybe cried on video a handful of times in the last five years. Vulnerability doesn’t mean crying. It means being willing to show the real side of things. Just being honest and talking about topics that typically induce shame. What I found is that there’s a number of topics that typically get a response. For women, the number one shame trigger for women is body image. For men, the number one shame trigger is not being enough or not being able to provide. What I found through my research is that there’s actually a list of the most shame-inducing topics. Because most of my audience is female, I’m going to focus more on women, but there’s a lot of similarities between men and women. For women it’s appearance, body image, motherhood, family, parenting, money, employment, mental health, physical health, sex, aging, religion, stereotypes, labels, speaking out, and surviving trauma and abuse. 

I started thinking about patterns. I know in my personal life, when I start talking about hard things, it creates a deeper connection. For example, I had a friend who just recently moved into our neighborhood and we started talking and she opened up and told me how it was so hard right when they first moved in because she had just lost a baby, and they were in a new state. Instantly it made me want to drop my guard and tell my story of when I had an ectopic pregnancy. It created an instant connection between us. Had she not shared that hard thing that she had gone through, we probably wouldn’t have connected in the same way.

Applying Vulnerability to Business

That’s an example of how you can use it in friendships. What I found is that you can also use that idea in business through storytelling. This is something I learned through one of my mentors, Russell Brunson, and I also talk about it in my Peak Business Academy in more depth. He talks about writing a soap opera email sequences, where you start with the highest drama point possible. I always thought that was weird, because when you’re storytelling, you naturally think about starting from the beginning and working to the end. But if you start your blog post, email, social media post, whatever, with the real raw emotion right from the beginning, then you can capture people’s attention right away. Usually, they’ll listen to everything else you have to say. 

I was looking at the different people at the Mastermind group. We had Brad Gibb and Ryan Lee there, they’re business partners. They are awesome finance guys, and their goal is to get people to invest with them. I thought about their business and how vulnerability could help them. I bet a lot of people, especially men that come to work with them, are embarrassed to show their actual financial numbers. I thought, if they lead with that very vulnerable topic, maybe talking about a time where they were embarrassed to really open up their playbook and show people their numbers and their money, that they would instantly reduce the amount of shame somebody has around that topic. As a result, people may be more willing to work with them because they lead with that.

Stacey and Paul Martino have an amazing course. In fact, she’s been a guest here on my podcast, on marriages. They’re amazing at this already. I talked about if you come in, especially, you know, on that list, sex is one of the topics. Maybe if they started off talking about a time where they just felt unattractive, and they weren’t interested in being intimate with their partner, they could help connect with their audience. If you tell vulnerable stories right from the beginning, you can make that connection so much faster. 

Mario Kart and Vulnerability Mushrooms 

If you guys look at my Instagram posts, Facebook posts, blog posts, a lot of them start with that real raw emotion. So what I do is, I try to keep a catalog of stories in my head. So when something happens, I’m thinking about how I can tell this story in a way that will help my followers relate in terms of what they may be going through. I think of this analogy, and it has to do with Mario Kart. 

I don’t know if anybody plays Mario Kart, but learning to be vulnerable is kind of like strategy in Mario Kart. I love Mario Kart. If you’re driving in your kart anyway, there’s a good chance you could win without power ups. But vulnerability is sort of like that super mushroom. So you start using vulnerability in your marketing or even in your relationships or in your day to day life, and it’s like you hit that super mushroom and BOOM. You can rocket past your competition, or you can make deeper relationships. We’re already creating our products and courses, or we’re already trying to make friendships, or we’re already trying to create a deeper connection with our spouse, but if you infuse a little bit of vulnerability into that, it makes your connections so much deeper, and it makes your product so much more successful.

For instance, I launched my podcast and I was so nervous to launch it. I in fact I delayed it twice because I thought it wasn’t going to be good and no one would like it. When we only had 11 episodes, we hit the top 200 business podcasts on iTunes. There’s like 50,000 podcasts. I was right underneath Dean Graziosi, Russell Brunson, like big name business people. And there’s no logical reason that should have happened. But I believe it’s because of the nature of this podcast. I try really hard to be very honest and open and real with you guys. I think that makes an instant, deeper connection. 

Sharing Scars, Not Wounds

So vulnerability is a tricky thing. And this is the hard part that I feel like I don’t totally have dialed yet when I’m teaching it. It’s important to share scars, not wounds. We all have that person on Facebook that overshares all their drama. The idea is to balance vulnerability with not oversharing and pushing your audience away. Now I can talk about hard things that I’ve gone through because it’s more healed, and the lesson can coexist with the hurt. But when I was in the thick of it, and it was more of an open wound, it’s much harder to talk about, and you open yourself up to criticism. I don’t want to talk about things where, if I were to get criticism, (because trust me, I get mean comments and emails and messages pretty much every single day) it would be really hard on me and become destructive. That’s why it’s important to know and to be cautious about sharing something in case you receive criticism for it. 

Be selective and be wise about the things that you share in that regard. I wanted to really figure out and dive deep into this topic because I know, for me especially, that’s been the secret sauce for me. If I go back to just being real, being raw, being open and honest and vulnerable, its consistently helped me to make more connections. If I keep talking about the things that people don’t usually talk about, but all of us go through, that’s where I make the real connections. It’s why I think I’ve been able to create a successful business and cultivate great friendships with other women. I think that’s the underlying secret there. 

At the end of the day, you can win Mario Kart without using any power ups, but if you have one, why not use it? Everyone has the ability to be vulnerable, and to connect to others in a more powerful way. It will feel like you’re exposed, but it’ll create an essence of strength around you. Soon, that vulnerability will be your super mushroom too.

xo Natalie 

P.S. I also cover this topic on my podcast, so if you’d like to give it a listen, click HERE!