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It’s an FFT — for All of Us (part 1)

First things first: I have a serious crush on Brené Brown. She, the “patron saint of vulnerability, emotional intelligence and bravery” has inspired me personally and professionally for years. She has an incredible talent for uncovering and translating human insights in the most intelligent, spot-on, and beautiful way.
And amidst the unique chaos that we’re living, she’s launched a new podcast that is a beacon of light for me (and I’m sure many others). “Unlocking Us” is full of “conversations that unlock the deeply human part of who we are…so we can lead with more courage and heart.”

More courage and heart? Yes, please! Her well-timed episode titled “Brené on FFTs” resonated with me not just as a human, but also as a brander and marketer. The episode focuses on FFTs, which stands for F*#%*@G First Times (we’re all adults here, right?).

Brené nails what it feels like to be in the midst of an FFT, articulating the vulnerability, awkwardness and discomfort that comes from doing something for the very first time. “If the definition of vulnerability is uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure, being new at something is the epitome of vulnerability.” Whether it’s something small like a new fitness routine or something big like a new career, FFTs are HARD. They challenge us, expose us, and force us to face the possibility of failure head-on.

And here we are in the midst of the biggest, scariest, most universal FFT ever. We’re all navigating so much newness as people, parents, neighbors and employees. And marketers aren’t immune. To be clear, we’re not on the frontlines (endless thanks to our heroes who are!), but we are in unchartered territory for brands. So how do we get through it? Like it or not, “the only way to get to the other side of the discomfort of being new is to push right through the difficult middle.”

Brené has shared a strategy that can make FFT’s a little more bearable whether in your personal life or your work:

1. Name it. Acknowledge the moment. Call it what it is — it’s an FFT! There’s no such thing as an easy FFT.

2. Normalize it. Feeling like you have no idea what you’re doing is exactly how you should be feeling. Step into the discomfort. Nobody knows what they’re doing! We’re all finding our footing in this shaky landscape at the exact same time.

3. Put it into perspective. These feelings are not permanent. This is a temporary state that will not last forever. Stumbling here does not mean you will stumble everywhere.

4. Reality check expectations. Accept this is going to be really hard. For a while. It will take more time, energy and resources than you think. Level set your expectations for yourself, your team, your brand.

In my eternal search for a silver lining, the good news is that for the first time, everyone is in an FFT at the same time. Which means there is no expert, no one right way to lead through this time. And if we can get ourselves over the fear and anxiety — we might see the freedom inherent in that. Because out of fear and newness comes growth. How do you use this opportunity to create a new future for yourself and your brand?

Here’s the full podcast. Take a listen and you’ll find useful tips not just for surviving the FFT of a global pandemic but for every FFT we face as marketers and people.

In my next post, I’ll share thoughts on how to start preparing your brand for the next FFT — the post-pandemic world. In the meantime, stay home and stay safe!


Melinda Davis

VP of Strategy
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Melinda Davis

VP of Strategy
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