Welcome to TL;DR (Tracy’s Latest Discussion Recap). We’re keeping you up to date on thought leadership from Tracy Lawrence, CEO & Co-Founder of Chewse. Today’s topic: why vulnerability and connection matters, and how you can apply vulnerability at scale in your company. 

In April of 2019, Tracy Lawrence gave a talk at Collision Conference 2019 about Scaling with Purpose and Authenticity and Leading with Transparency & Vulnerability. It’s a long title but a short talk where Tracy dove deep into why vulnerability is the way companies are going to move forward in the modern age, and what you can do to get there. Read below for a few highlights from the talk. 

Why connection matters

Modern-day companies are struggling with workplace loneliness and lack of connection. Multiple employee surveys have shown that connection in the workplace is what employees want – so much so that they’re willing to leave their current companies to find it elsewhere. 

We’ve written about workplace connection many times, so we’ll spare our blog veterans from hearing more. But if you want to learn more about connection in the workplace, download the Chewse eBook!

It’s not just Chewse either – companies worldwide are rallying around workplace connection. According to a Deloitte study cited by Tracy in her Collision Conference presentation, 50% of global companies are currently attempting to change their culture in light of what they’re seeing and hearing from their employees. 

That’s why, at Chewse, we believe that everyone has a seat at the table. We’re striving to create authentic connection in the workplace so no one ever has to eat lunch alone. For Tracy, that mission comes from a place of vulnerability. 

“When I was 10 years old, I was bullied pretty severely. I was bullied so badly, I used to eat lunch alone in a bathroom stall. It’s the kind of experience that… even now makes me a little shaky. And this was an experience that I sort of hid from… Then one day I was talking to a group of CEOs about this experience… and I realized how important it was for me to share that story of struggle.” 

That’s because vulnerability is the key to connecting in the workplace. Without acknowledging where you’re coming from, and where other people are coming from, you can’t truly connect with them. 

Vulnerability’s place in the workplace

By being vulnerable, you’re able to increase and encourage connection between yourself, your coworkers, and your team. That being said, vulnerability doesn’t mean being 100% transparent, nor does it mean that you’ll be someone’s therapist if they open up to you. Rather, when you display and encourage vulnerability, you’re fostering open communication channels. When speaking about vulnerability, Tracy says: 

“What is vulnerability? Vulnerability is the ability to share a feeling. Well first off it’s the ability to feel a feeling… and then it’s the ability to share it

Vulnerability has helped Chewse scale to a company of over 300 employees across the US. But, when Tracy started the practice of being vulnerable at Chewse, there were only a handful of employees at the company.

Chewse was 6 months away from running out of funding, and Tracy was terrified. On a walk with her co-Founder, she shared her feelings of trepidation and fear – and he recommended sharing it with the rest of the company. Though Tracy initially brushed that possibility aside, she found that opening up – sharing the way she was feeling and the fears she was having – made everyone at the company feel more heard. As a result, not a single employee left (despite the fact that Chewse was rapidly running out of money) and the company was able to pull off a successful Series A!

Hardcore vulnerability

But it isn’t enough for leaders to be vulnerable on occasion – that associates vulnerability with negative emotions or bad times. Vulnerability is beneficial for a company nearly always. After all, according to Tracy: 

“Vulnerability may be kind, but that does not mean that it is soft.” 

Sharing the way you’re feeling allows a company to move forward faster and better than ever. Hardcore vulnerability does just that. In Tracy’s words: 

“Hardcore vulnerability is to share at scale. It’s to take the risk at scale”

At Chewse, we practice hardcore vulnerability every day through transparent, compensation-based salaries. As our frequent blog readers will know, we also talk about transparent salaries frequently, so to learn what Chewse transparent salaries are and how to implement a transparent compensation pay structure in your office, read more here.

Transparent salaries force us to be vulnerable as a company – not just as individuals. And, when we’re vulnerable at scale, all teams reap the benefit of vulnerability and community-building in the workplace.

To learn more, watch Tracy’s talk below!