Why Vulnerability Is Your Most Powerful Asset, according to Salesforce’s Lola Banjo



“If we don’t like what we see online, then we have the power to change that narrative.” — Lola Banjo, Strategy Innovation Executive, Salesforce


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Authenticity is mentioned a lot in marketing. It’s the image and aesthetic that brands, companies and influencers alike all seek to portray in order to gain consumer confidence and trust.

During #SMWNYC, Strategy Innovation Executive for Salesforce, Lola Banjo identified the key to authenticity is allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

Stop caring about what others think

What prevents us from truly being vulnerable is a subtle vice: caring too much about what others think of us. On social media, this translates as us portraying the perfect lifestyle when in actual fact, real life is far from it.

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Fear is the emotion that drives this need for perfection. Fear prevents true vulnerability. We’re scared of being judged and not being relevant; losing friends and online, followers. We’re scared of being overlooked and not being liked,” Banjo explains. Inevitably there will be people who don’t like you. The ones who do will never forget about you though, because you have a connection beyond something you could ever understand.”

Connection is the essence of vulnerability

Connection is the essence of vulnerability and we have an innate need to feel connected as human beings.

There’s a fallacy that you have to share something grand in order to prove yourself sufficiently vulnerable in order to connect but you don’t. There is no clear definition of vulnerability, however, Banjo provided some steps. You have to accept yourself first, otherwise, you’re going to be in hiding. Then, believe you’re worthy of connection and experience. After, celebrate all the opportunities you are lucky to have. Vulnerability is being able to say you’re not quite there yet but want to be. Asking to be taught.

Embracing other people, ideas and concepts is vital. You can’t expect someone to accept you if you’re not accepting of them.

Banjo added, “vulnerability is not self-sympathizing. It’s also not pushing the boundaries of general comfort. It’s not being accusatory, a humble bragger, being self-absorbed and sharing too much detail.”

Vulnerability versus oversharing

Vulnerability versus oversharing is a notion that a vast amount of individuals mishandle. It’s the difference between declaring you have a rough day from publicizing a play by play of events.

At a Wash Gala, run by Face Africa Community, Caroline Wanga, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer of Target said, “who you are in non-negotiable.” Banjo champions this.

By being vulnerable herself, both Banjo’s professional and working life has improved. “Brands can be vulnerable by focussing on connection, not perfection,” she states. “Focussing on the real human factors, telling real stories, being humble and taking ownership when things don’t go exactly to plan.”

As leaders, we all have a responsibility to create safe and inclusive workspaces, celebrate diversity, promote psychological safety and be aware of subconscious biases. How do we lead by example? 

“We are all influencers in this room,” Banjo concludes, “what we do today is going to influence future generations. If we don’t like what we see online, then we have the power to change that narrative. We can create the future that we all want to see going forward.”

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