Guest Post: What Monica Lewinsky Taught Me About Being a Better Entrepreneur

As the Buddytruk Blog audience grows we have been having more guest writers share tips, advice, and stories with us to share with you. Today, we have a very special guest writer, James Carbary. James Carbary is the founder of Sweet Fish Media, sharing time-saving tools for entrepreneurs and marketers on the Sweet Fish blog and the Huffington Post. When asked if he had any entrepreneurial tips to share with our readers, he responded with a tantalizing post, “What Monica Lewinsky Taught Me About Being a Better Entrepreneur“. Color me intrigued…

What Monica Lewinsky Taught Me About Being a Better Entrepreneur

Monica Lewinsky was at the epicenter of a media maelstrom in 1998. She recently broke her long silence with a TED Talk, warning against the dangers of cyber shaming. It’s an incredible talk on its own, but as an entrepreneur, I wanted to apply her powerful words to my context. From the talk, I’ve adapted four specific lessons that relate to any entrepreneur.

1) Be authentic

The best word to describe the Lewinsky talk would be “bold.” It was bold to attempt to educate the very public that turned on her; it was even bolder to do it with bare honesty. As an entrepreneur, this inspires me to engage clients as a real person. I don’t want to pretend I’m flawless or that I’m someone else. Too often in business, we bury our sense of humor, present only the shiny parts of our business, and conform to whatever we need to be to make more money. But authenticity means showing who we really are, the gifts and shortcomings. And at the end of the day, clients will appreciate that level of humanity.

2) Own your failures and use them as a platform to inspire

“It’s time to stop tiptoeing around my past,” Lewinsky said.

Binding yourself to a past mistake, or not even acknowledging that mistake, keeps you from having your best impact right now. Have I screwed up with a client? Of course. But I have choices today. One is to write about the mistake and help prevent others from making it. In that way, we turn failure on its head. What might have crippled us can be used to hold someone else up.

3) Have compassion and empathy

Lewinsky says the empathy of others saved her. Compassion and empathy were the forces that offset the cruelty in her life. Where is their place in business? The answer is everywhere. Any business is an exchange between humans. The merchant has her own unique set of life experiences and prejudices. The buyer has his own talents and flaws.

Therefore, business is never “just business.” It’s an intermingling of stories. (Click to Tweet)

And empathy is what transforms business from a transaction to a meaningful communal experience.

Below are 3 specific elements from Lewinski’s talk that also relate here:

  • ”Clicking with compassion”– Of course we try to draw customers to our website, but are we putting out content that will build people up or tear them down? As Lewinsky says, there’s a “difference between speaking up with intention and speaking up for attention.”
  • “Compassion for yourself”– Building a business is really, really hard. It’s good to remember its progress is not a reflection of your own worth.
  • “Compassion for employees”They’re not caged underlings; they have differences, desires and, believe it or not, limits. (Click to Tweet)

4) You can control your narrative

“You can insist on a different ending for your story.”

You control your narrative by putting into the world what you believe the world needs more of. Is my product really valuable? Am I supplying a need? Be careful not to downplay yourself here: someone wrote the ad that sold the door handle that opens up to the restaurant’s back room where major social justice laws were established.

Every contribution to the world matters.


Valuable insight is all around us. Not just the popular marketing podcasts or blog posts from Inc. Magazine.

Monica Lewinsky’s boldness in sharing her story openly and using it for positive change is admirable on its own, but as an entrepreneur, it meant even more to me. I hope it has a similar impact on you.


James Carbary is the founder of Sweet Fish Media. He shares time-saving tools for entrepreneurs and marketers on the Sweet Fish blog and the Huffington Post. To learn how you can write blog posts that turn readers into customers, check out James’ 5-part email course. It’s incredibly actionable, and 100% free.

Interesting, no? Leave your comments below!

CJ Johnson

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