In 2015 I accidentally posted something on Facebook without checking my privacy settings. Little did I realise that my cock-up would lead to more clients, more gigs and positive media attention. Get ready to make my mistake — it might be the best thing you ever do for your business.

FOUR years ago, I made a ‘mistake’ that effectively skyrocketed my business. I went from calling myself a ‘coach’ to actually BEING a coach — full time, in demand and with a growing list of clients.

We always think of mistakes as being detrimental to our businesses, don’t we? But this one had entirely the opposite effect. One Facebook faux pas led to more business opportunities than I’d ever experienced before, including positive media attention, new coaching clients, speaking engagements and the chance to create, and run, a series of training and development workshops with the potential to go national — maybe even global.

Looking back, it was a really easy mistake to make — and it’s one I will never, ever regret!

I was sitting in my car, in a supermarket car park, when I decided to respond to a post on Facebook. What I wanted to say was too long for a typed comment, so I decided to get brave, film a little video on my iPhone and post it to my wall.

Safe in the knowledge that the content would be going no further than my circle of (real) friends, I went deep. I talked about going through abuse. I talked about the times I’d wanted to kill myself — and being interrupted. I talked about how much I’d changed since then, about my hopes, my dreams and how much I wanted to use my experiences to support and inspire others.

It was a waffly video. It was almost 10 minutes long. I wasn’t wearing my branded gear. I looked a bit of a mess, to be honest.

In that video, I was more honest than I’d ever been about parts of my life I’d alluded to, but never really been so open about.

I didn’t want to be ‘typecast’.

I didn’t want to be the ‘abuse survivor’ or ‘that woman who walked away from the car accident with a broken back’.

I didn’t want to be seen as having ‘mental health issues’ or being ‘instable’.

Jeez! So much fear!

I hit send. I expected to get, perhaps, a few platitudes and a virtual pat on the head.

Cue the light show

Within minutes, my phone started to buzz and light up. The alerts were going bonkers!

What on earth was going on?

I checked Facebook. My video was getting loads of comments and being shared. I was receiving private messages from people I’d never heard of before.

My video — my warts and all smartphone movie, with me being virtually naked with my emotions — had gone public. What’s more, it was going viral!

Oh. My. Gods. I’d forgotten to check my privacy settings. It hadn’t gone out to ‘friends only’. My video — my warts and all smartphone movie, with me being virtually naked with my emotions — had gone public. What’s more, it was going viral!

Feel the vulnerability and do it anyway

At first, I panicked. I felt insanely vulnerable. But then, I read a message from someone that switched my thinking. Someone I’d never spoken to before had watched my video and it had made here reconsider some pretty dark thoughts she’d been having. She was thanking me for saving her life.

Buoyed by that experience, together with encouragement from friends, I left the video public. Someone else asked if I could provide a YouTube link, so I uploaded it there too. Next, I uploaded it to my Facebook business pages.

Across all platforms, the views were shooting up. We stopped counting at 40,000!

Someone sent the link to Huff Post. Someone else sent it to the county authority’s domestic abuse team.

Before I knew what was happening, my video was appearing in Huff Post, as well as DIVA magazine, Kindred Spirit, various online channels and my local newspapers as well.

I started being invited onto podcasts too and, from there, news started to spread.

Lincolnshire County Council got in touch to ask if I’d be willing to create a bespoke version of my empowerment programme for people who’d been through domestic abuse, and that attracted even more positive attention — especially when we launched a crowdfunding drive to run more events. That was when I ended up on BBC Radio too.

Magnetic attraction

Somehow, my story really connected with people and, rather than my past blighting my brand, it seemed to act like a magnet. More and more people got in touch to ask me to coach them or asking to book onto workshops with me.

My following grew, I kept speaking out, kept being absolutely real and standing in my truth, and kept my eyes on my mission — to build a brand and business that inspired, motivated and supported as many people as possible to step into their power and say YES to life.

The rest, as they say, is history (herstory?). My following grew, I kept speaking out, kept being absolutely real and standing in my truth, and kept my eyes on my mission — to build a brand and business that inspired, motivated and supported as many people as possible to step into their power and say YES to life. You too. If you’re reading this, I want to help you to #UnleashYourAwesome.

Personal branding buzz

If I look back far enough, I was teaching people about personal brand (back in my PR and social media service agency days) before it became a buzz phrase. I was big on keeping things real and talking about the people behind the brand, but even I hadn’t been entirely honest — not until that moment when I made my Facebook faux pas. Until that point, I was sure I was walking my talk, but I’d been sitting at the edge of the room, maybe tapping my toes to the beat, and not really dancing.

That awesome mistake taught me the real power of authenticity in business and the real meaning of walking my talk.

That awesome mistake taught me the real power of authenticity in business and the real meaning of walking my talk.

As my following grew, so new opportunities opened up. I’ve been back on BBC Radio many times, as well as featuring on ITV and as a chat show guest on SKY TV too. I’ve spoken on stages across the globe, written books for publishers in the UK and US (and I’m commissioned to write more) and I’m about to start working alongside a major charity to deliver more of my empowerment events for people who’ve been through domestic abuse.

It’s crazy. I’ve even been recognised in public — on a number of occasions now. I’m not sure that will ever stop feeling a bit weird, but I’m grateful, nevertheless.

From little acorns…

Why am I telling you all this? Because I can trace so much of my success in business, and the growth of ‘Brand Taz’ back to that one video. It really was the acorn that grew into my oak tree — and it’s still growing now.

It’s not about fame seeking or ego stroking — it’s about being visible enough so that those people I’m here to help, support, motivate and inspire know I’m available.

As I write this, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. From the countless private messages I’ve had, I know my video — my being absolutely honest and baring my soul — has had a profoundly positive effect on many, many people. I also know it has saved a number of lives or, at least, helped people to turn their thoughts around and move them away from plans to end their time on this world.

When I filmed that video, I had no idea it could be so impactful. Just under 10 minutes of rambling has, potentially, resulted in goodness knows how many extra years of life for so many people.

When I filmed that video, I had no idea it could be so impactful. Just under 10 minutes of rambling has, potentially, resulted in goodness knows how many extra years of life for so many people.

None of those fears I had back then were valid. I haven’t been ‘typecast’. Nobody thought worse of me. My business reputation, rather than being damaged, went from strength-to-strength.

A note of caution

I don’t know what’s happened in your life and, obviously, there needs to be a note of caution here: before sharing your deepest thoughts with the world, you need to ensure you’re in a strong enough place to deal with the outcomes and, of course, you might need to take your loved ones into account too.

But, I will say this: if there are life lessons you’ve experienced that could help or inspire others, if you feel able to share them, if it’s safe for you to do so, consider doing just that.

Please, do think about it carefully before going public — it’s night on impossible to take things back once they’re out there, so you’ll need to be absolutely sure. Even more sure than getting a tattoo… you can at least get those lasered off these days! It’s not so easy with social and the media — you need to be 100% certain for this.

If you’re sure, though, go for it.

It doesn’t need to be anything huge; it might just be the real reason you’re so passionate about your business, or a cause you care deeply about and want to speak out in support of.

> Maybe you were bullied at school, or have struggled with depression, or hit rock bottom after redundancy or the end of a relationship.

> Maybe you’ve discovered life goes on after bereavement and want to show others a healthy way forward.

> Maybe you’ve survived a major trauma, or live with a disability or chronic illness and want to prove how much you’re still capable of living a bloody good life.

Remember the uplift!

Whatever it is, just be absolutely sure you’re ready to give your all AND that there’s an uplifting message for others, rather than it being nothing more than a cathartic ‘vomit’ vehicle (hey, they can be really healing for you, as an individual, but that’s another topic entirely).

If you’re ready, buckle your seat belt and hold on tight. It might just be that repeating my ‘mistake’ could be the making of you — as well as being a beacon of hope/inspiration/determination to many others.

Until next time,

#UnleashYourAwesome,

Taz

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Taz Thornton is the author of Awesome Sauce — a free, weekly positive life and business round-up, with good news stories, positivity tips and visibility hacks for your brand. In a few minutes each week, you get a dose of optimism and some awesome advice to get seen and stay happy.

Taz is also a best-selling author, inspirational business speaker and consultant on confidence, personal brand and visibility, award-winning coach (UK’s Best Female Coach 2018 — Best Business Woman Awards), consultant and creator of the #UnleashYourAwesome and #BrandMastery personal and business development programmes, as well as #UNLEASHED — an affordable confidence, content and cashflow building programme for coaches, healers and therapists.

She has been featured on BBC, ITV, in HuffPost, Diva and countless other newspapers, magazines and podcasts. Taz is also a regular columnist for the America Out Loud talkshow network.

Find her on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Insta.