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"You Can't Handle the Truth!"...but You'll Be Lost Without It

The truth is not always easy to handle, especially when it comes to our own weaknesses and shortcomings. However, in my humble opinion, seeking the truth is absolutely essential for business leaders to build a rock solid foundation for their successful business. Identifying the weaknesses in your business is essential for growth and success. Failing to identify your weakness results in a very predictable outcome - failure...in whatever form it decides to take..."high customer churn rates, massive employee attrition, anemic pipeline, lower profit margin, pathetic organic growth, low operating captial..."  Failure can arrive unannounced and in many forms...seeing clearly where failure may manifiest itself gives you time to solve for it.

In business, the truth can be hard to come by. Most early stage companies are built on a culture of optimism and positivity. While this can be a great mindset to have, it can also lead to a lack of transparency and honesty. Amid the cacophony of positivity forward thinking employees may be hesitant to speak up about problems or concerns, for fear of being seen as negative or not a team player. Leaders may also be reluctant to share bad news or admit to mistakes, for fear of damaging their reputation or losing the confidence of their team.

However, this lack of transparency and honesty can be detrimental to the longterm success of a business. Lack of visability to the truth about our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, does not equip us to take the steps to address them. This leads to missed opportunities, wasted resources, and ultimately, failure.

So, how can we encourage a culture of honesty and transparency in our business? Here are a few tips:

  1. Lead by example
    As a leader, it’s important to model the behavior you want to see in others. If you want your team to be honest and transparent, you need to be willing to do the same. Admit to your mistakes, share your concerns, and encourage others to do the same.
  2. Independent 3rd Party Engagement Employ the use of an proven, independent 3rd party to help guide and scale your company to next level.  The right independent 3rd party advisor who's been there and done that, can give you the feedback you need need to make the critical, foundational decisions you need to make in order to grow.  As a successful founder it's OK to admit that you don't know everything and may need help or guidance...on the flip-side, it's a dereliction of duty to NOT understand this but to forge ahead blindly.
  3. Create a safe space for feedback
    Employees may be hesitant to speak up about problems or concerns if they feel like they will be punished or criticized for doing so. Create a safe space for feedback by encouraging open communication and assuring employees that their feedback will be taken seriously.
  4. Use data to drive decisions
    Data can be a powerful tool for uncovering the truth about our business. Use data to identify areas for improvement and track progress over time. This can help take emotion out of the equation and make it easier to have honest conversations about what’s working and what’s not.
  5. Celebrate failures
    Failure is often seen as a negative thing, but it can actually be a valuable learning experience. Encourage your team to take risks and try new things, even if they might fail. When failures do occur, celebrate them as opportunities for growth and learning.

By seeking the truth about our business, we can uncover areas for improvement and take the necessary steps to address them. This can lead to growth and success, both for the business and for the individuals involved.

However, seeking the truth is not always easy or comfortable. It can be difficult to admit to our weaknesses and mistakes. It can also be challenging to hear feedback that is critical of our work or our leadership. But the discomfort that comes with seeking the truth is worth it in the end.

As the famous author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” While seeking the truth may not always be fun, it is essential for growth and success in business and in life.

Buffer: Radical Transparency

One example of a company that values honesty and transparency is Buffer, a social media management company. Buffer has a culture of radical transparency, which means that the company shares information about its finances, goals, and operations with its employees and the public. For example, Buffer publishes its salaries online, along with a detailed breakdown of how they are calculated. The company also shares regular updates on its revenue, user growth, and other key metrics.

Buffer's commitment to transparency has helped it build a strong sense of trust and loyalty among its employees and customers. By being open and honest about its operations, Buffer has created a culture of accountability and collaboration that encourages employees to share ideas and work together to achieve common goals.

In addition to its commitment to radical transparency, Buffer has also implemented a number of other policies and practices that promote honesty and openness. For example, the company has a "default to transparency" policy, which means that employees are encouraged to share information with each other by default, rather than keeping it confidential. Buffer also holds regular all-hands meetings, where employees have the opportunity to ask questions and share feedback with the entire company.

By valuing honesty and transparency, Buffer has been able to create a workplace culture that is both productive and supportive. Employees feel empowered to take ownership of their work and contribute to the company's success, while also feeling confident that they are working for a company that shares their values and priorities.

Overall, Buffer's approach to honesty and transparency serves as a powerful example of how these values can be integrated into a company's culture and operations. By prioritizing openness and accountability, companies can build trust and foster collaboration, which can ultimately lead to greater success and innovation.



  1. "Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity" by Kim Scott. This book explores the concept of radical honesty in the workplace and provides practical advice for leaders on how to build a culture of feedback and openness.

  2. "The Importance of Transparency in Business" by Forbes. This article discusses the benefits of transparency in business, including increased trust, improved decision-making, and better customer relationships.

  3. "Why We Need to Value Transparency in Business" by Harvard Business Review. This article explores the importance of transparency in building trust and creating a culture of accountability in the workplace.

  4. "Why Failure is Good for Success" by Psychology Today. This article discusses the benefits of failure, including increased resilience and a willingness to take risks, and argues that we should celebrate our failures as opportunities for growth.

  5. "The Truth Will Set You Free: Why Honesty is the Best Policy" by Psychology Today. This article discusses the psychological benefits of honesty, including reduced anxiety and increased self-esteem, and argues that being truthful is essential for building healthy relationships and achieving personal growth.