Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending my city’s chapter of Creative Mornings. For those of you who may not know what Creative Mornings is, it’s essentially a free event held in various cities around the world where young creatives of all professions can come and enjoy coffee, breakfast, and a talk from a professional on the designated topic for that month.
This month’s topic was transparency in leadership and we heard from Carolyn Kopprasch. She is the Chief Happiness Officer at Buffer (I’m not sure what a happiness officer is, but I feel like that’s a job I would like). She was an excellent speaker and she surely encouraged me to think about transparency (even simply as a social media “influencer,” whatever that means), and its deeper value quite thoroughly.
One of the things she brought up with the value of transparency in a business was talent. She described how when the company was transparent about everything from their practices to their salaries, they actually attracted more potential employees that truly aligned with their business’s mission statement, as opposed to a bunch of randoms. With regards to how this applies to social media, I see it like this: by being myself and being honest with my audience, I feel as though I have attracted an audience who is similar to me in that they are (for the most part) gracious, intelligent, talented, curious, etc people (good job, friends. Way to hold it down). This is akin to, “You attract the energy you put out” mantra.
Another really relevant takeaway I got from Carolyn’s talk was her mention of empathy, and how transparency can breed it. It’s easy to be transparent about the good things in life, but the struggles aren’t so easy to share. She was brave enough to share something very personal with a room of over 400 strangers. She spoke of how she deals with anxiety, and how her manifestation of anxiety was through picking (i.e. compulsive skin picking). She brought this up because she wanted to highlight that she was able to be transparent with her coworkers about her struggle… They received her with open arms, and this transparency helped breed deeper connections between she and her colleagues. She spoke of how when a coworker said something to the effect of, “You look good,” she knew that they meant something deeper than a general praise for her jewelry or hair on a given day… She knew that they meant she looked healthy and happy. By being transparent with them, her coworkers were then able to treat her with a greater degree of empathy, which she described as (in paraphrased terms),
“Personalized kindness based on your scope of understanding.”
This is where things get tricky with social media, and where I personally struggle with transparency. While I do my best to be open and honest with my audiences about my struggles, my experiences, my joys, etc, there will always be those who choose to respond with a lack of empathy. There will always be someone with something rude to say, especially when they have a keyboard and an anonymous account to hide behind. While my skin (and the skin of just about anyone who elects to share their lives on the internet will likely agree) has thickened considerably over the past couple of years, we are all simply human at the end of the day. Sometimes, a rude comment or remark simply hits you at a bad time, on a bad day, etc, and long story short: it hurts. I’ve had plenty of moments where I’ve been so frustrated that I contemplate the cessation of my social media “life” all together. But then, after I regain my perspective (and talk to friends who deal with the same struggles), I remember the amount of positive feedback I receive. I also truly believe that the things I put out may very well need to be heard by someone out there, so I continue to share. PS – I think this is an appropriate time to tell you all how awesome you are. When it comes to the real-life, 3-D interactions with my audience that social media has enabled me to have, there’s no comparison. It blasts the negative comments to mere little shards. Those are also the types of interactions and “happy feels” that encourage me to continue to share my life and my heart of social media, and it’s why I love doing things like meetups or simply meeting one of you at the grocery store (which usually happens when I look like roadkill).
All in all, I think there is value in transparency. While there is a difference between transparency and oversharing, which I do think some people on the internet do from time to time, honesty is always a good thing. We’re all just human, after all, and no one is perfect or without struggle. While being transparent looks different for every individual, it can help harbor creativity and create a more empathetic environment. Imagine how much growth we could accomplish as people if we felt truly safe to always “come as we are” and share our hearts? That’s the kind of world I want.
Also, it seemed really appropriate to wear an open-backed sweater to this event on transparency… It’s kind of transparent in a way, right? Maybe that’s the creative in me thinking…
For more information on Creative Mornings and to see if there’s a chapter near you, visit https://creativemornings.com .
Sweater: Sabo Skirt https://saboskirt.com/shop/product/cross-back-knit
Watch: MVMT Watches (Discount code EMILY for 10% off!) http://www.mvmtwatches.com/collections/womens-best-sellers/products/abbot-kinney
Bracelet: Old one from Forever 21
Bag: Marc Jacobs Classic Q Natasha, but I don’t believe these are sold anymore?
Shoes: purchased over a year ago at DSW and the branding is worn off, but a similar pair here: http://www.aldoshoes.com/us/en_US/Women/Boots/Ankle-Boots/c/131/Appula/p/48603484-96
Special thank you to my dear friend Chanel for playing blog-tographer for me that morning <3.