I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately and expressed some of my feelings in my post last week, The Struggle Within. I’ve come to the realization that when I am not being completely true to who I am, then I am failing myself and all of you.

It wasn’t an easy post to write and of course I was fearful that I would be seen as weak and unconfident. But that’s the exact reason why it was so important to write it.

As much as I want to believe that me writing personal growthy posts will help you, in all realty , it won’t. There are already more than enough of those to last you 100 lifetimes.

What makes a difference to people is seeing other people (like me) going though the same shit they are going through and directly talking about it. You may feel alone, lost, and scared but when you read about me having those same feelings, it provides comfort and adds a realness to it.

Looking Stupid

Let’s face it, we are all afraid of looking bad. The fear of criticism is a huge limiting factor in many areas of our lives. I’ve let it control much of my life and it has cost me dearly.

I’ve never shared this with anyone, but in the 11 years I spent as a financial advisor, I was paralyzed by the fear of sounding like I didn’t know what I was talking about. So much so that I would rarely make phone calls to prospects or clients when others were within earshot.

  • Will my coworkers judge me?
  • What if I make a mistake?
  • What if I sound stupid?

Do you know how limiting this is when working in a cubicle? I spent days and even weeks not making any calls because I had no privacy. I would literally plan my days around my cube mates schedules and at one point, would go to entirely different floors in my building to find a quiet space. I was so concerned about sounding stupid that I all but killed my productivity.

I could easily been far more succcessful if I had just had the balls to say “fuck ’em” and just be myself. The reason I was like this was because I never finished college and always felt like I wasn’t worthy to be doling out financial advice to more educated people. This of course is ridiculous, because most of my clients had no idea what a stock or mutual fund even was.

The worst part was that I was actually quite good on the phone and knew exactly what I was talking about. It was that fucking fear that I allowed to control me.

Prom King


In 1989 I was a senior in high school.  I was also about as awkward as a teenager could be. But I, like every other hormone fueled,  pimple faced kid, wanted to spend time with the opposite sex. But for me, my mother was about the only one who qualified.

But I wanted to go to my senior prom. There was a girl named April who I wanted to ask, but chose not to. I was terrified of the possible rejection and embarrasement I would face when she said no.

So my friend asked her, she said yes, and they ended up having all kinds of sex that night. Now I’m not sure the 17 yeard old virgin Steve would have been quite ready for that type of night, but in any case, I missed out on a once in a lifetime experience.

I still think about it now, 25 years later.

And the kicker is that the day after prom, she approached me and asked why I didn’t ask her to go. Fuck you fear…

How Not To Look Stupid

Regardless of how cool we think we are, how attractive we think we are, or how smart we believe ourselves to be, there will always be someone criticizing us.

As prolific a speaker as Gary Vaynerchuk is, there are those who think he sucks. As talented a writer Seth Godin is, there are those who think his work is drivel.

It’s human nature to find fault with others. It might be jealousy, wanting to inflate our own ego by beating someone else down, or just that we think we are superior in some way.

But it doesn’t fucking matter. 

I’m not talking to the people who already don’t give a shit what people think about them, I’m talking to the people who are letting this fear control some aspect of their life.

We can’t please everyone nor should we try. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way and it’s a waste of our time to worry about what others think.

The key is to be confident in being yourself. That’s it. Being yourself is harder than it sounds. I mean, think about it. When was the last time you walked into the grocery store in your frumpy pajamas? Never. Why? Because people will look at you weird or worse yet, you might see someone you know and they will judge you.

Now think about your kids. They don’t give a shit about going out in public in their Spiderman Underoos. They don’t care that the checkout lady might think they are weirdos. No, they are just happy being themselves.

Now I’m not suggesting that you show up in your underwear and think that might actually get you arrested, but you get my point. Stop caring about what others think and start being true to yourself.

We all look stupid at different times and it’s OK.

Honestly, life is too short to worry about what everyone else is thinking about you. Yes, it’s easier said than done and the reason why public speaking is our greatest fear.

Is Looking Stupid Good For Business?

It seems that every other blogger and Internet marketer brands themselves as an expert in some shape or another. If I have to read another “Join 8,000 others and subscribe to my awesome newsletter”, I’m going to kill someone. Who fucking cares that all those people opted into your sales pitch?

Stop telling me how great you are and tell me about you.

And I fully understand the importance of social proof, but I think too much emphasis is being placed as appearing as a leading expert and not enough on being a real person that people can identify with.

I think that most businesses could benefit from being “real” and sharing their flaws and weaknesses instead of letting us believe they have their shit together. The truth is that most businesses don’t. They struggle and fail every day. Tell us about that. That is going to help us, not the fact that you have sold more than 1000,000 widgets.

I believe the real power behind building a personal brand or business that allows you to truly connect with your user base is being vulnerable and openly honest, even if that means risking looking weak.

There is immense power in vulnerability but most are unwilling to go there.

As for me, I’ve realized that this is how I will build my business. No bullshit. No facade. Just me doing my best to create the best life I possible can.


Your turn now. Is you fear of looking stupid limiting you in some way? If so, how?

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