Being fearless and taking big leaps by putting yourself out into the world and being visible to more people isn’t an easy feat. We’ve got all sorts of crippling thoughts about how we might be judged or disliked and it can keep us hiding forever. Today, I’m showing you how you can strike the right balance of being positively vulnerable without over-sharing to attract and help your people in the best way possible.
Tune in as I explore the concept of vulnerability and fulfilling your passion by being 100% authentically you. I’m still working on sharing more than just the highlight reel and being more vulnerable than I ever have, and I hope you join me on this journey.
You are listening to The Design You Podcast with Tobi Fairley, episode number 50.
Welcome to The Design You Podcast, a show where interior designers and creatives learn to say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth, and joy. Here is your host, Tobi Fairley.
Hey friends. What is happening? This is episode 50. We are two weeks from a year of The Design You Podcast. So exciting. Kind of flew by too, like, it’s amazing. 50 weeks of content. It’s been a fun ride and I’m so happy that you’ve been here with me.
So let’s talk about some good stuff today. Maybe you’ve noticed, maybe you haven’t, but I took a great big leap this year and started creating videos that go out every single week that I kind of call Tobi TV internally. That’s not what we are calling it to the world. I used to have something called Tobi TV but this is like, Tobi business TV almost, or Tobi life TV.
But anyway, they’re on IGTV and YouTube and Facebook, and they’re all out there every single week, which is so much fun and I’m working with an amazing creating team. And when you combine that with the podcast and all 50 episodes and all the content I create for the Design You program, I’m doing so much fun stuff. I love it.
I absolutely love it because I love helping others, serving others just like you, and it’s just such an honor to get to do that and it’s a joy. But along with the joy can be some discomfort. Doing lots of video for sure can be uncomfortable, even for an extrovert like me. And the next thing on my list is to do a whole bunch of live video like Facebook Lives and Instagram Lives and more Instagram stories and all kinds of stuff that I’m pushing myself to do.
And it’s really, even for me, who I’m pretty fearless, taking big leaps like this can make so much fear come up. And some of you are like, oh my gosh yes, I’m terrified, I don’t even like to see myself on video, much less anybody else see it. Well, that’s just going to hold you back and we’re going to talk about that today.
And I want you to think about this, like the fact that I am going to be doing a lot more Instagram stories in real time and really sharing my life in a bigger way. Very vulnerable, right? So every bit of this conversation we’re having leads me into today’s topic, which is putting yourself out there and really how to do that or what that looks like.
Because here’s the thing; no matter how old we are or what stage of life or stage of business we’re in, putting ourselves out there is a vulnerable thing to do. And today I want to address the fears and the vulnerability of putting ourselves out into the world in a big way through our ideas or on social media or on video or in writing or even just with your creative work itself. Putting that out into the world, knowing that it might get a mixed review because heck, not everybody’s going to like what we do, right?
So there’s so many ways that we put ourselves out into the world and with that comes a lot of vulnerability, but it comes with a lot of other great stuff too. Vulnerability is not a bad thing because it’s often where we grow and we get in touch with our true self. And really, it’s part of creativity and really, what creativity is is a means of expressing ourselves, and you have to be willing to put yourself out in the world in a big way in order to fully express yourself.
So a lot of you, maybe that’s why you don’t ever feel like you’re really hitting the mark with authenticity or your purpose or what would light you up because you’re not letting yourself really be seen and you’re not being vulnerable enough to put yourself out in a big way.
Now, I do really understand how this can feel and you may think, “Tobi’s fearless, she can do this stuff in her sleep. It doesn’t even apply to her like it applies to me.” And I am pretty fearless but that comes from years of training because the first time I did any of this stuff, I was not fearless. I was scared to death and I’ve also worked with hundreds of other entrepreneurs, plenty of them even introverts, and people who like to be very private with their information.
And I’ve helped them also be able to manage their mindset and their fears and put themselves out on these platforms in a big way. So if I can do it and they can do it, I absolutely know you can do it if you want to and if you decide to. But yeah, we all will feel uncomfortable when we start something new, especially when we’re first taking some of these big leaps out in a way where people are going to see us, maybe like we’ve never been seen before.
So I want to share with you some great things today, starting with a really cool tip or philosophy really that I heard Marie Forleo talk about last summer. So I was at this cool conference that Dr. Mark Hyman put on and if you don’t know him, which a lot of people do, but if you don’t, he’s a functional medicine doctor and I went to this really cool thing he did called The Feel Good Summit.
And one of the speakers was Marie Forleo, which was one of the reasons I went because it was a health summit, and yeah, she’s kind of a business and online guru, but I loved that he had her there really talking about her journey and how it played into her wellness and all the good stuff. But that’s a whole other topic.
Let me tell you what she said. The short version of the story and the point I was trying to make is that she had a great tip as part of a Q&A session that was a real game changer for me and for a lot of the people that I work with. Because someone had asked really kind of about this and about starting a new business and putting yourself out there and how scary it is, and really this whole idea of what people think about you.
And here’s what Marie said; she said if you’re crippled by what you think people will think of you or what they will judge about you, then you’re doing it wrong because that means you’re shining the big old flashlight, like proverbial, you know, imaginary flashlight right on yourself. So you’re really only thinking about yourself and how uncomfortable it’s going to be.
And so she said what you need to do, and she even made this kind of gesture like she was grabbing the flashlight that was shining right on her with her hand, and she turned it like she was turning her hand with the imaginary flashlight and shone it or shined it, whatever the correct grammar is there, out onto the audience.
And she said what you need to do is you need to grab ahold of that giant flashlight and you need to turn it around and you need to shine it right on all the people that you want to serve. And I thought this was absolutely genius because it’s so easy to get in our head, right? It’s so easy to pick ourselves apart and think, what about my hair and my face and I’ll look old or I’ll look fat or I’ll look skinny or I sound stupid or I don’t like to hear my voice or I have this weird mannerism on video or my content’s not that good, or whatever millions of negative thoughts, obstacle thoughts, problems that are going to come into your head.
And when you are thinking about other people instead of yourself, it’s not possible for all of those things to register with you. So, when it becomes about them and not about you, it’s so much easier to put your gifts and your talents into the world with confidence and even knowing that if you do hold back, you’re doing a disservice to all of those people that could be benefiting from you and your talents and your gifts and your insights and your wisdom and all the stuff that you bring to the planet.
Because let’s be clear, we all have amazing things to share. Whether we believe it or not, that’s how we were designed. And so isn’t that a really fantastic shift of taking the focus off of you and turning that focus on all of the people that you’re serving with your message? You can even think about those people as your tribe, your audience, your friends, whatever you want to call them. Your kids, honestly.
Anybody that’s going to benefit from you taking a leap, albeit a vulnerable one, and putting your gifts and your messages in the world. And just think about those people. All the people that you will lift up and that you will help if you’re willing to put yourself out there. And if you don’t do it, again, you’re just robbing them of what you have to share and maybe part of your purpose, I’m a little woo-woo now so I believe in this stuff, but maybe part of your purpose is to be here and share your message and if you’re not willing to do that, maybe you don’t influence somebody else in a way that had to do with their purpose and why they were supposed to be here.
So, think about that. It’s kind of deep stuff but it’s so rewarding and exciting to me. And here’s what I want you to know; your people are out there and they’re waiting for you. You just need to put yourself out in a way that they can find you. And think about it, it’s crowded in the world. It’s crowded on social media, it’s crowded in email marketing, it’s crowded in business, it’s crowded in video. Whatever it is you want to do, it’s crowded.
So you can’t put one thing up occasionally and expect anybody to find you. You have to be passionate about putting yourself out. And I know you may be thinking, “But what about everybody else? Yeah, I’m focused on those people I’m helping, but what about the people who are still going to judge me, even if I’ve got the flashlight shining on my people?”
Well, first of all, who cares? One of my favorite sayings that I heard years ago is what other people think of you is none of your business. But to take that a step further, no matter how smart, how kind, how pretty, how generous, how loving we are, how talented, how spectacular we are because we all are, even if we’re people-pleasers, mind you, which I don’t want you to be, but even if you are, it still doesn’t matter because there will be at least a 50% chance or greater that we’re not going to be liked by somebody.
So in other words, 50% of the people in the world or more aren’t going to like you just because you exist, and that’s completely absolutely totally 100% okay and it’s something that you’ve got to get okay with yourself. Here’s the thing; you’ve heard me talk all around the mindset stuff for months now and it’s so true, but one of the key things that we need to know about mindset and thinking is that we can’t control other people’s thoughts. We can only control our own.
That’s why no matter what we do, there are going to be people out there that just don’t like us, and maybe it’s because they are actually envious and wish they could do what we’re doing. Maybe they just think we’re obnoxious, maybe they think our messages are stupid and we’re annoying, but it doesn’t matter because the people that do need to hear from you absolutely don’t think that.
But I want you to see right now if you haven’t seen it before that no amount of success or beauty or money or anything else will help you control the opinions of other people. And a lot of times, it’s even because you have those things that you’re doing and those wonderful qualities about you that actually make people not like you. So maybe by being who you truly are, that is the thing that makes some people don’t like you.
And that’s not a bad thing. I learned years ago that a really great marketer, a really great marketing message either does one of two things. It attracts or it repels. So if you’re repelling people, I mean, really kind of I think of it as them being repulsed by me. If you’re doing that, you’re doing something right. That’s part of the goal.
You want to attract your people that connect with your messaging and your energy and all the things you put out in the world and you want to repel everybody else. That’s the whole goal. So if we’re upset by the people we repel and what they think of us, we’re just going to be upset all the time and no wonder we would not put ourselves in the world.
So think about it. That whole idea of people not liking you, it is completely okay and it’s actually our goal. And I don’t know about you, but if people are going to not like me anyway because 50% of them or more aren’t, if they’re going to judge me anyway because 50% or more of them will and they’re going to do that whether I’m my best self or my worst self, they’re going to do that whether I’m putting myself out there or I’m pretending like it’s safe, hiding over in my own little bubble and not really stepping into my gifts and my talents, if they’re going to not like me and judge me anyway, then I sure prefer to be my best self, to make my highest contribution to the world.
And to take it even a step deeper if that’s possible, it’s not just that we can’t control if people like us or not. We can’t even control how they interpret us or our actions. So if you get wrapped up in trying to, you’re going to be so frustrated and you will quit again because you might have intended a word, or a phrase, or a video, or a project to be interpreted in one way, you meant it to be perceived one way but again, we don’t control how other people perceive us or interpret us or our actions.
So, no matter how perfectly orchestrated, planned, executed anything is that you do, there are going to be people who don’t get it, who don’t like it, and who maybe are even mad at it. But again, are you going to let that hold you back? And are you going to let that hold you back from helping other people? You’ve got to let the good of what you have to share outshine any negativity because it might be there any given day, the negativity, the judgment, the dislike.
If it is, there’s nothing you can do to change it. But putting yourself out there is about being vulnerable, and that vulnerability is exactly what will connect you with the right people, with your people. Because if you hold back, if you try to self-edit all the time, if you only share a version of you, that’s a waste of your time. You’re really not going to fully connect with anybody.
So let me tell you what this looks like in my own life. A little bit of a story of how I can kind of help you see just one tiny example because there’s so many in my life of how vulnerability is so crucial to really putting yourself out there and how it’s really worked for me.
So this year, not too long ago, like a month ago or so, I turned 47. So how’s that for being honest and vulnerable? Just owning your age. I’m 47. I found it recently when a celebrity, I think it was Karl Lagerfeld or somebody that just died recently and they were like, we think he was 83, we’re not sure. Well, you for sure know I’m 47. And I’m being perfectly upfront about how old I am and thankfully, I am a person, a lot like my mom, who isn’t bothered by age.
I love my 40s. I loved my 30s. I fully expect to like my 50s even more than my 40s, which I like even more than my 30s. I have no doubt that three years from now, I will start loving the 50s even more than my current decade, which I think is phenomenal. But not everyone feels that way. In fact, not everyone’s comfortable with being open and honest about much at all about themselves, especially on things as public as a podcast like this, or in a video.
But I want to be open with you and be as authentic as I possibly can while putting myself out there. So I found that the more vulnerable I am about my age, or my weight issues, or something I’m struggling with as a parent, or balance, or business, or anything else, when I put myself out there, the more I do it in an authentic way, the more I connect with the right people and the more my business has grown, the more my impact has grown, and frankly, the more my relationships and friendships have grown.
So being real is the way to really connect with your customers, your audience, your friends, your spouse, honestly, your kids, those people that you want to influence. And I’m not saying I’m really, really super good at this. At least not yet. But I’m practicing this and I’ve been practicing this for years and even this year, as I started 2019, I made a conscious decision to move even more out on the limb of discomfort in this direction with being vulnerable.
And I intend to, throughout the whole year of 2019, be even more open than I’ve ever been before. Now, let’s be clear. Vulnerability and over-sharing are not the same thing. There’s a fine line between being open and being negative about your problems and your issues. Not that we have to make everything look perfect all the time, but getting really negative and complaining about our problems because we all have them, it’s not what most people want to hear, I’ve found because they have their own problems and they don’t really want to take ours on.
Now, we can definitely talk about issues and we can talk about it in a way that makes other people feel heard, that makes other people feel like they’re not the only one, and that’s a really good thing. So you have to find that space that’s the best place for you to hang out in in vulnerability land where it’s kind of not quite over-sharing but just being open and being yourself.
I think there’s something that’s really what I would call positive vulnerability. So let me give you some examples of that. Some of you listening may be in my Design You coaching program and if you are, or even possibly on some other episodes of this podcast, you’ve heard me talk about a photographer turned online businesswoman that I admire named Jenna Kutcher, and she has a great podcast. If you haven’t already found it, go find it.
Jenna doesn’t know me at all. I’m just observing from the sidelines of the amazing things she’s doing. So she’s a young woman, probably around 30-ish maybe. She just had her first baby. And she’s a champion of body positivity and self-acceptance and self-worth. And last year, she became a spokesperson for the brand Aerie, which is underwear and bathing suits, and I think they have some other things, but that’s primarily what she is basically a brand ambassador for them and really, they are a sponsor of hers.
And so while she was going through infertility, fertility treatments, miscarriages, building a business in a huge way because she’s super dynamo when it comes to building her business, then she became pregnant, then it worked this time and she went through her whole pregnancy all the while, every single one of those states over the last probably 12 to 18, 24 months-ish, she was showing her real unretouched body on Instagram in lingerie and bikinis and she’s a very average size.
I don’t know what size she is, but if I had to guess, I’d say, I don’t know, a 12 or 14. How do you tell? People are different heights, different sizes, and nobody really cares about sizes, but I’m telling you what she’s not. She’s not a size zero. She has just like the rest of us real people, she has bumps and dimples and bulges and things that I’m sure she would like to change about herself, or at least at one point she wanted to.
But she fully embraced herself and self-acceptance and self-worth and started working with this company to put herself out literally in underwear and bathing suits. And the way they found her is she started this on her own. She started putting herself out because she challenged herself to do the same. As a photographer who’s in an industry where everything is always super Photoshopped and retouched and changed, she wanted to start a different movement of really the real her and to inspire other women to do the same thing.
So although she definitely got plenty of unkind comments about her choice to bear her skin online and embrace and love herself just the way she is, guess what else happened besides those haters and the negativity? Her Instagram following absolutely exploded and in about a year’s time, blew up.
I mean, it’s a million followers now. I think she’s alluded on one of her podcasts that it doubled in one month and if I did the math right, that means in one month’s time, she gained around 150,000 or more followers, maybe even 300,000 in about a month’s time. But I know in a very short period of time, she grew by 500,000 new followers who absolutely love and champion the way she’s putting herself into the world, the way she’s teaching them to love themselves as they are.
I mean, it’s just a beautiful message, and talk about vulnerable. Now, I’m not saying that followers are a sign of value for sure. They’re not a sign of your worth. I’m just saying that that shows how many people her message resonated with and that it had an overwhelmingly positive response as opposed to the negativity that did come because there were definitely people who said really negative things about her in the process, but it was overwhelmingly positive and that’s the only responses she cares about anyway, are the people that she wants to inspire and connect with.
So her philosophies and loving herself enough just to be real really resonated in the best sort of way, and it was so absolutely inspiring to watch. And it’s not too late. You can still go see it all. It’s all right there on her Instagram. And most of the time she was doing this, I was thinking to myself, there is absolutely no way in the world that I could do that.
Seriously, friends. Unretouched, bumps, curves, all of it. But what it did make me think about was how I could be more real with my audience in the ways that feel best to me and that can serve my audience the most. And I love that she pushed me in that direction. And whether or not I still Photoshop my photos, which by the way I do, not necessarily meaning my weight, but just even for my website. Of course my teeth get whitened on there and of course my wrinkles get smoothed out because that’s my comfort zone right now.
But I like challenging myself to think differently and the possibilities of what I could push myself to be most comfortable with. And any time we’re turning inside and just asking the question, could I be more real, would this make a difference in a positive way for me or someone else, and what am I willing to do? And I’m telling you, just that conversation opened up so much for me.
So I want you to start thinking about that. What that looks like for you and how you could make a difference and feel really fulfilled and like you were serving your purpose and living in your passion if you could really openly share more than you maybe have in the past. And it’s the same thing I’m looking at. How can I share more and maybe I do share more of the struggles. Not to be negative, but just to be real of the things I’ve faced in my business or in my health and wellness, or in even building my brand.
Because that can be so helpful to so many people, right? So yeah, I’ve definitely been guilty in the past of only putting out the pretty stuff, and some of that I think probably comes because of the industry I’m in. So when you are in industries like interior design or fashion that we’ve been trained for years to only make things look perfect, that’s kind of how we just operated.
And then with the invention of selfies and Photoshopping and people creating these sort of fake lives that we put out into the world and only show our highlight reels, it really reinforced that. So yeah, I will of course will show you beautifully retouched images of rooms I’ve designed and even of me at times, but I’m challenging myself and I hope you are inspired to do the same, to think how can I start to be a little more open.
A little more open to showing real life. And I think I do this a lot when I talk about business and when I talk about things here on the podcast. I’m comfortable, I’m not feeling that vulnerable sharing in concept. It’s more visually in photos that I’ve got a long way to go. So it’s interesting and it’ll be an interesting path to see where I can take this in the next few months and really kind of deciding where I want to take it.
I’m not saying I want to take it to where Jenna is. My goal is not at the end of this be like her or Valerie Bertinelli after Weight Watchers, putting ourselves out in bathing suits. Not judging. That’s just not on my list. That doesn’t inspire me or light me up to want to be in a bathing suit right now. I might change my mind.
But what’s the equivalent of that to me for showing my business or my life in a way that really could encourage and be a game changer for somebody else? So with this concept, with this podcast, I want to encourage you to get in the arena if you’re not already. People want to see you. They want to see the real you. People want to see the how and the behind the scenes.
And not necessarily all of the mess and the drama that can come up for some of us sometimes like the train wreck, but a little bit of the mess because when you don’t see any of that, it doesn’t even feel true. It doesn’t feel real. So just us being able to admit that we’re humans and we’re not perfect and everything’s not always the highlight reel, I think that is a really cool aspiration for us to have.
Because people do like to see that we’re normal and that it’s not just some it factor or that we’re some outlier but that we are truly normal people and they suspect that anyway. I mean, think about it. For years how many of us have said, there is no way Martha Stewart actually does all the stuff that they make it look like she does.
Now, what I do know and what I’ve heard from very close friends of Martha that are in the industry is she does do a whole lot of that stuff and at least initially they were all of her ideas, which I love. So it’s not like she’s just a completely fabricated human being. But I think the difference is from 10, 15, 20 years ago in media and print, the habits and the practice were to show everything in perfection and like you did it all by yourself.
And now what’s really resonating with people, especially online, just by nature of social media and how so many people get on there in real time these days is that people want to see the real you. So what does that look like?
So to wrap up, I want to share with you one of my favorite quotes from Brené Brown who’s spectacular. If you follow her, she’s just a genius, and all of her life’s work has actually been in the area of vulnerability. So if you haven’t read her books and you haven’t watched her TED talk, I feel like where the heck have you been hiding under a rock.
But seriously, I know not everybody knows Brené, so if you don’t know Brené, go check her out. Her books are amazing. But this is one of favorite quotes that hopefully will inspire you to start putting yourself out there more and more this year. And she says, “You either walk inside your story and you own it, or you stand outside your story and you hustle for your worthiness.”
Wow, let’s say that again. “You either walk inside your story and you own the whole thing, the real story, or you stand outside your story and you hustle for your worthiness.” And what I think that means is when you’re on the outside, you’re sort of creating that façade of perfection. So you’re out there. You’re not on the inside where it’s real. You’re out there trying to keep all the balls in the air and that’s where the hustling for your worthiness happens.
And gosh, if y’all have been like me, and trust me, I’ve tried to keep every ball in the air at times, then you absolutely know how exhausting that is and it’s more scary I would say when you create a façade and you try to look perfect all the time, being afraid that it might all come crashing down around you and you might be revealed than to just go ahead and be vulnerable.
And that’s what I’ve been learning for several years now and I hope that I just keep getting better and better and more and more authentic than ever and putting more of myself out there. So putting yourself out there isn’t about showing every weakness at all. It’s about showing people how you deal with a challenge. When you truly step into your vulnerability and put yourself out there, I know you will be amazed by the results. I definitely have.
So, go out there, put yourself out in the world. Blow your own mind with the way that you show up to help other people, not with the flashlight shined on you but shining on every one of those people that needs to hear and know you and your message and your talents and your gifts. And I can’t wait to see you do this. So much so that I want you to tag me on social media when you do put yourself out there.
So when you do a Facebook Live or you do some kind of post, you create some kind of product or project or anything that you do to put yourself out in the world, tag me. I want to be your cheerleader because we all need those people in our corner because yeah, it’s going to be scary. But if we can know that some people are helping us put ourselves out there and they’re really supporting us and championing the things that we do and say, then it makes it so much easier.
So you’ve got this. I can’t wait to see what you do and I’ll see you back again next week friends, here with another episode of The Design You Podcast. Bye for now.
Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of The Design You Podcast. And if you’d like even more support for designing a business and a life that you love, then check out my exclusive monthly coaching program Design You at tobifairley.com.