Owning My Flaws

You need to own your flaws if you have them. โ€“ Gary Vaynerchuk

Having just spend the last 12 minutes watching Gary Vaynerchuk talk about it, and having spent the past week living it myself, I find that I can’t stop thinking about hyperbole. I’m prone to it. Severely prone. I like to make a point and I like to win arguments and hyperbole is always a fast and effective way to get an idea out there. It is also a fast and easy way to put your foot in your mouth and end up hurting people. It can be a crutch or it can be a tool, and like anything, it all depends on how you use it.

When you are trying to communicate in a crowded space by using using 300 or so words, you are going to swing for the fences. It is go big or get ignored. When you start to hit the publish button on a regular basis you are (or more like I am) likely to say or do foolish things along the way. You’re going to help some people clarify their ideas on your good days, but you’re probably going to hurt others on your bad. Sometimes, you’ll manage to do both at the same time. It doesn’t mean you should stop talking; it doesn’t mean you should stop being bold. It just means that you have to get better and be more intentional as you go along.

Like Gary said, there is a flaw in the way I communicate (he was saying it about himself, of course… he is far too nice to say that about me in public). It’s a flaw that manages to get me heard, that helps me to get a point across, but it often hurts me as much as it helps. A good message gets lost when badly communicated. A good conversation gets derailed by drama. And a good intention will come off as bad if the message isn’t stronger than rock attached to it. And the breed of hyperbole that I am prone to can, on occasion, do some damage (just ask my wife).

Thankfully, when things go bad, there is always an opportunity. There may be drama at first (ok, there will certainly be drama), but as long as there is dialogue and debate, things can always get better. People say stupid things, but they don’t always say it for a stupid reason. Guys like me and Gary are bound to say something brash and even inaccurate from time to time. Making big statements loudly is a trait that is pretty much hardwired into my DNA. From what I see and what I know of Gary, it seems hardwired in him as well1. His video just served as a timely reminder that even though something may be true about you, that doesn’t make okay. You still have to work every single day on emphasizing the good and outgrowing the bad.

I said some smart stuff on the internet this week and I said some stupid stuff, and I did that all in the same post. Like everyone else here, I’m learning and I’m trying to get better every day. I care about this place, I care what the explosion online means to our lives and our businesses and everything I do comes from that care… and that includes the stupid crap that occasionally comes out of my mouth (or fingers as the case may be).

We are so proud and excited to own our ideas online, to get them out there, to communicate with an audience and hopefully we help them grow. But if we really want to continue to grow ourselves, we are going to have to acknowledge our flaws and work every day to improve on them. As chance would have it, I have plenty of them myself with my penchant for hyperbole at the center of it all, so there is plenty to work on.

Thanks, Gary, for reminding me to own those flaws and to keep working on improving despite them. To those I offend or worse yet hurt along the way, I’m sorry. Truly. Both you and the point I was trying to make deserve better.


  1. Forgive me if I am wrong there, Gary.  

12 Responses to Owning My Flaws

  1. It’s all well and good owning flaws; but that’s different from taking blame wrongly.

    The post you referred to had some minor negative feedback (and mostly from one of the people referenced and his buddy); but overall it had people agreeing and nodding. So you obviously hit the mark with a lot of people.

    Make sure you separate the differences. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. It’s all well and good owning flaws; but that’s different from taking blame wrongly.

    The post you referred to had some minor negative feedback (and mostly from one of the people referenced and his buddy); but overall it had people agreeing and nodding. So you obviously hit the mark with a lot of people.

    Make sure you separate the differences. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • It’s true, but there is a difference between what everyone else does and what you do. It isn’t nearly as much about taking blame (if it is at all) as it is ownership.

      The differences are thoroughly separated. Just a healthy reminder to myself as much as anyone else as to what I should be aiming for with the next swing of the bat! Thanks as always!

    • It’s true, but there is a difference between what everyone else does and what you do. It isn’t nearly as much about taking blame (if it is at all) as it is ownership.

      The differences are thoroughly separated. Just a healthy reminder to myself as much as anyone else as to what I should be aiming for with the next swing of the bat! Thanks as always!

  3. Hi Michael, I forgive you.

    Seriously, I feel bad I started this whole mea-culpa business with Gary. I received his book at BWENY, read the section where he blasted PR pros, emailed it to Gini and then the poor guy ends up having to apologize on air.ย 

    Now about your post at Mr Brown’s place. I thought it was great and I don’t see any reason to apologize for any flaw. I am not even sure why having an opinion could be considered a flaw?

    We can’t please everyone right, and why try. Unless you are running for the White House in 2012.

    • Don’t you dare apologize, thank you. And while I can’t speak for Gary, I hope he’d feel the same.

      Anything that helps you find clarity is a good thing. Anything that you can own about yourself, that may make you better is a positive experience.

      I don’t feel bad for a single point I made, I do however feel bad about how I made some of them. For me, the goal of that piece was two fold. Get the private conversations going on out into the open. Just as you, Gini and Geoff did with Gary. There I succeeded.

      The second goal was to try to spark some conversation between the Senior and Freshman classes of SM folks as it seems to me that there is a pretty big gap forming. There, I feel I failed.

      Having an opinion is never a flaw. Hurting someone to make it is. Gary hurt PR folks with a badly worded valid point (there are a lot of questionable people in this space along side the good ones). I hurt someone who I was actually trying to communicate with. Like Gary, my message got lost to a group that I really hoped would hear it.

      I’ve always thought the whole punk the idea not the person stuff is bullshit. We are our ideas and we should own and defend them and people should be able to call us out on them. But that has to be handled delicately and respectfully. Especially if the goal is for all ships to rise.

      You are spot on, you can’t please everyone. But you can at least be respectful and there, I think I got carried away a little.

      I tend to be hard on things, and if I can’t be hardest on myself (that just comes with being a stereotypical by Jew :) ), I have no business being hard on anything at all…

  4. Written communication has a lot of challenges that don’t exist in verbal exchanges. Without tone, body language and facial expressions it is easy to cause hurt feelings.

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