Trying to be honest

The land of unspoken truths

I’ve never really spoken honestly about building and directing Cubicle Ninjas before. From what I’ve seen online, most businesses (especially design agencies) owners don’t either.

Sure, companies post the usual marketing fluff, aspirational parables, or case study blogspam, but the actual meat is left sitting on the table. The “how” is never addressed. Never before in the history of mankind has so much been said to say so little.

When talented leaders do share their heart-felt worldview they are seen as “wildcards”. Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, Tony Hsieh, or Jason Fried all defy this rule of silence. Because of their topics of conversation, they get adjectives like wacky, maverick, radical, or nonconformist thrown their way. But shouldn’t that be the point of every business?

The business balance beam

The reason is that discussing the gory details of wins/failures has practically zero business benefit for a typical organization. Let’s take a look at the positives:

  • You get to be open, getting information off of your chest.
  • You may be creating a more personal connection with your customers and build trust.
  • You get to talk about your business, drawing more traffic.

Now, let’s breakdown the disadvantages:

  • Being honest publicly is hard.
  • Having failures makes you look bad, while success can make you look like you’re gloating.
  • Bad press is more likely to get picked up than good press.
  • Being honest about the details may turn some customers off.
  • Some information is still being decided and unfit for public use.
  • Sharing details helps your competition.
  • Detailed posts may cause internal/partner friction.
  • Articles like this help people second guess your leadership.
  • You can get sued for telling the truth. (This happened to me this year. Full story to come.)

The rise of the un-person

This is why being honest never really happens. And so a million boring, soulless, painful blogs exist, making customers think running a business is as mind-numbing as trying to stomach their text dumps.

My mission for this blog is to tell the painful, awful, wonderful truth of running a business in all of its un-glossy gore. It is not pretty, but being truthful means more to me today than a perfect plastic reality.