The Power of Vulnerability: 3 Lessons from the StartUp Podcast

I never miss a moment to catch up on my favorite podcasts, of which there are currently over 25 I subscribe to and listen on a daily basis. Radiolab satisfies my thrust for answering questions I didn’t even know I had. The Digital Analytics Power Hour helps me stay up to date on the latest in the analytics field.

Late last year, I stumbled upon one of my new favorites, StartUp, which is a podcast by Alex Blumberg. For those of you unfamiliar with the podcast, StartUp documents the most honest, strikingly vulnerable story of Alex starting up his own company. In this case, a new media company called Gimlet Media that aims to publish and promote podcasts in a new and engaging way. A podcast about starting up a podcast business. A medium that broke into the mainstream thanks to the blockbuster Serial last year. Alex earned his chops from This American Life and Planet Money but the episodes showed he had much to learn. In the second season, the story shifts to the new matchmaking company The Dating Ring that further explores the sometimes rocky road of entrepreneurship. The podcast remind me of Brene Brown’s inspiring TED Talk on the power of vulnerability and how putting yourself out there in an authentic way, leads to a transformative journey that leads you to tremendous personal growth. These are my three key takeaways that I hope to emulate in my own growth.

1. Define Who You Are

In the first season when Alex was pitching superstar investor Chris Sacca (known for his promising early bets on Uber and Twitter), Alex bumbled his way through his pitch about why his podcasting company will represent the future of media. He was lacking confidence in the moment of truth, struggling to define the brand or what his vision would be. It was embarrassing. It was cringe worthy. It was a vulnerable moment that Alex did not edit out of his podcast. In fact, it was the very first episode and the first thought I had after hearing his pitch was this is probably going to be a very short podcast series. Leaving himself open like that allowed him in the following episodes to really refine what his message was and gain confidence in his idea. The more he said it out loud and wrote it down, the more it manifested itself into an inevitable idea that this new media company was not just an idea. It will be turned into a reality. Do you have an idea that has lingered in the back of your mind for quite sometime? Pitch yourself. Constantly and continuously, build upon your vision each day and leave yourself vulnerable to feedback. This also represents the continuously improvement model of kaizen.

2. Listen to your Personal Board of Directors

Speaking of feedback, having a personal board of directors you can trust is a critical component to your growth. Alex documented numerous insightful conversations with his wife, someone who struck the perfect balance of knowing when to push him on ideas and when to offer that essential support. In fact, it was pointed out by some investors in later episodes who had listened to the podcast that she has offered some of the best advice to him starting his business. Can you clearly identify your own personal board of directors? Those relationships will get your through the tough times (i.e the trough of sorrow) and being vulnerable with them will allow you to build even deeper relationships and draw them closer to you.

3. What is your unfair advantage?

What makes you unique? What skills or qualities make you untouchable to the competition and will not guarantee success, but you can clearly define? Chris Sacca posed this question to Alex early on and an unfair advantage is something that can not easily be copied or bought. Exposing yourself to the elements offers the ability for you to discover what brings out the internal passion for success. There is no secret formula here. Only the willingness to push yourself and unlock the drive that lives inside of you.

What are some lessons you have learned from StartUp or other podcasts? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

This post originally was written for Growler Analytics, another project of Samuel Itin

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