Does Transparency Hurt Business?
I was on the phone with a blog reader of mine yesterday. We were talking about a possible joint venture. During our conversation, he mentioned to me that he thought my transparency may be hurting my ability to attract clients.
What did he mean by “transparency?”
In this case, he was referring to another blog I write. It’s a blog about debt reduction. I haven’t tried to hide this blog; but I also haven’t promoted it to many people who know me.
His thought: If people know I’m in debt, wouldn’t they be less likely to hire me?
I guess we could ask this question of other issues as well: If people know I’m a Christian, wouldn’t they be less likely to hire me?
Or how about: If people know I like snowboarding, skateboarding, and motorcycling, wouldn’t they be less likely to hire me? (“That Ryan, he’s such a hooligan!”)
I’ve thought about this issue quite a bit. And I have wondered, “Was it a bad decision to use my real name on my debt blog?”
I haven’t really fully answered that question yet.
But consider this:
- Gary Halbert did hard time in jail. That didn’t seem to hurt his ability to get clients.
- James Brausch is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As far as I know, he still grosses over a million dollars in revenue per year.
- John Carlton was fired from every job he ever had (or nearly). He still commands hefty five-figure fees for the copy he writes.
Obviously, some things will definitely hurt your business. For instance, a scandal à la Eliot Spitzer.
But other “negative” things seem to have little or no effect. Possibly even a positive effect.
Why do I say positive?
Because I believe people want to know that those they respect and esteem are normal folks, just like they are. They want to know about their failures, their foibles, their unusual beliefs and interests.
Why else do tabloids sell so well?
Why else do Carlton-esque hooks attract so many readers? (“Man with no legs and no arms drives golf ball 500 yards… by swinging a club he holds with his teeth!”)
It all comes down to real people succeeding and doing big things in life.
It’s about being human and becoming great in spite of your humanity.
It gives you hope.
“Hey, if so-and-so can do it, so can I.”
That kind of thing.
So… what do you think? Is transparency a good thing or a bad thing for business? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.
-Ryan M. Healy