How I Found Vulnerability at an Ad Industry Event

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I have been to a few industry conferences recently and typically the most valuable content is focused on technology, apps, or companies that will help us reach consumers in new and unexpected ways. But at a recent event, this isn’t what captured my attention. What struck me was much more personal and frankly, quite unexpected.

I’m not sure how much I believe in the unseen vibes of the universe that sometimes deliver news and patterns, but for the past weeks, I haven’t escaped this one learned message: the message of vulnerability.

I’m not the the first person to write about this, and I’ll be far from the best or the last. In fact, Dr. Brené Brown so eloquently spoke about the power of vulnerability to such a, well, powerful extent that her 2010 TED talk video has garnered nearly 24,000,000 views in six years and changed the way so many people live.

But, you know how sometimes someone can tell you something 1003 times, but, in the end, it takes you realizing it on your own before the light bulb goes off? That’s what happened to me.

I’ve watched Dr. Brené Brown’s talk, I’ve read thought pieces, and I’ve had discussions with my girlfriend on my guarded nature. I don’t know why, but it took a few great talks, panels, and business meetings for this idea to land in my lap and become obvious. I realize this isn’t my own idea and if anything, I should be shamed for my lack of perception. But alas, here I am – light bulb on, inspiration radiating, and ready to take on the world in a new (and vulnerable) way.

Vulnerability can be found in the most random encounters – spanning business or otherwise. Here are a few resources on the speaker circuit from whom I find myself achieving this notion.

Casey Gerald

Casey Gerald is one of the most articulate and eloquent orators I’ve ever seen (or heard). He speaks on ‘the gospel of doubt’ — or, what you do when your held beliefs turn out to be untrue. I’ll save the meat of talk for you to listen to on your own, but Gerald urges everyone to question their beliefs and embrace uncertainty. I question if not believing in anything is okay and how much I enjoy structure or, ahem, need it. But in the end, it is the way he wraps it all up that stuck with me:

“It’s possible the answers we have are wrong.

It’s possible the questions are wrong.

It’s possible that we are wrong.”

Anthony Bourdain & Ira Glass

It’s likely that you’re familiar with both of these studdly personalities. While their paths have been drastically different, their inspiration and philosophies are surprisingly (or not) very similar. In short, they both do what they want. They both have that ‘devil may care’ attitude. And both create based on their own individual interests.

“If you liked my last episode, I want you to hate the next one,” Bourdain said, diminishing the reputation of his own show.

I love the idea of pushing the limit in what you create, so much so that your audience doesn’t know what to expect.

Glass said something along the same lines. During his chat, he encouraged everyone to follow their enthusiasm, and to avoid creating something that you yourself wouldn’t want to consume.

Now, both of these guys are obviously in a unique position to be afforded this freedom, but by being intentional with your work and where you spend your time, you’ll be well on your way.


This year, I’ve been maneuvering my way into a new role at work and struggling to define it. I thought I could benefit from a 15-minute mentorship session from someone who must be just as crazy as me to think they can build a successful career – while still staying sane – working in the advertising industry. My mentor and I accomplished more in 15 minutes than what I’ve been working on for three months. He suggested that in order to grow I needed to make myself uncomfortable. I needed to “f&*% myself,” he said. That a position of “Oh no, what have I done?” was good for me, and that I should find myself in that position often.

And, where am I going with all of this? It all comes back to vulnerability. One can’t embrace uncertainty without being vulnerable. One can’t be excited about their work without first being vulnerable. One can’t f&*% themselves without a willingness to be vulnerable.

And for businesses? Vulnerability is about being open to new ideas and bravely challenging status quo. It’s competitive out there, so how do you differentiate yourself?

As Dr. Brené Brown says, in order for connections to happen, you have to allow yourself to be seen. In my opinion, if you can start every day with this one mantra, you’ll be making steps towards vulnerability. Maybe one day you’ll wake up, light bulb on, and realize how being open — vulnerable — has led to opportunities you never thought would exist.


Cheers to the ‘V’ word.


Daniel Vidal is Senior Content Strategist at Drumroll.

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