18 Nov V is for Vulnerability
Hey there – I’m Kat Kresic, Head Honcho here at MMD!
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how my company does things significantly differently than, well, ANY of the other businesses (that I’m aware of, at least) in our industry.
One of the key components of that differentness was sparked by a single brilliant phrase I picked up while listening to a talk at a marketing event a few years ago – and it’s kind of crazy to see how much it’s ended up affecting the way I run MMD today.
While at the Small Giants conference in Detroit, Michigan in May of 2018, I happened to attend a mind-blowing breakout session given by Corey Blake of Round Table Companies. During the session, he uttered one of the most powerful phrases I’ve ever heard at a business event: Vulnerability is sexy, he said.
When I heard that sentence, I nearly forgot to breathe for a minute. See, I grew up thinking being vulnerable was a sign of weakness (which is a very traumatic belief to have if you’re a bleeding heart like me!). Then I took over MMD from my parents, and I quickly saw that in the business world – and especially in the construction industry – it’s generally considered to be a massive no-no. So to hear Corey, an accomplished business leader, talk about how willing to be vulnerable can actually be a strength, was like a breath of fresh air.
When I heard Corey say those magic words, it was at a time in my business when I had pretty much said, “fuck it – I’m going to run my businesss however I want to run it.” His talk made me realize that a big part of that was going to be about running MMD in the spirit of cooperation, transparency, and doing what’s right – all things that can feel very vulnerable in a world that teaches us that business should be exclusively about profit, margins, and making your competition irrelevant.
What I’ve noticed is that most business owners base their decisions and actions on trying to “shore up” as much revenue as they can. Ironically, they do this in order to feel as non-vulnerable as possible, but the truth is, it’s when you dare to be vulnerable (and when you’re willing to step away from the money chase from time to time) that the magic happens.
Vulnerability in business is about making space for ideas that are the right thing to do, such as focusing on transparency, minimizing environmental impact, and giving back. Even if these ideas don’t end up being revenue-generating in the short term, they can impact your bottom line long-term. They also tend to benefit your employees, your community, and/or the planet, which actually gives vulnerability an impressive ROI.
Plus, there’s a personal payoff that comes from leaning into vulnerability. Speaking for myself, because I’ve made the decision to not have my guard up as I run my company, when I show up at work in the morning, I don’t have to wear a mask. I don’t have to have a split personality – one for my family and friends, and one for business. I can be my authentic self at all times, which is energizing instead of exhausting.
Committing to a philosophy of vulnerability at work means I can put others first, which just feels natural to me as a human being. In my personal life, I never go into things thinking, “how can I get mine? How can this benefit me?” And it’s the exact same in my business life.
Truth be told, I think that if all the companies in the construction industry chose to treat their customers, suppliers, and even their competitors the way they treat their neighbors, rather than as threats to their survival, they’d all be much happier. What I’m doing at MMD is a testament to the fact that you can be a kinder, gentler kind of construction supply company – and still have food on the table and a roof over your head.
You might even sleep better at night – all thanks to a little thing called vulnerability. 🙂
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