Debra Swersky
Alixandra Martin - Untitled.png


Opt-in for weekly journal, not blog, posts.


Believe it or not, I cry. As a reader you may say, “Um… duh.” or “Excuse me… really?” Both are totally valid responses and I appreciate the confusion in the thought. Let me put it this way: Crying is like burping. (The marketer in me wanted to call this post “Burping” instead of “Crying” but that would have been misleading… well, kind of.) 

In Turkey, India, and Saudi Arabia burping is actually considered to be an act of “complimenting the chef.” You may have learned that burping is gross, or unacceptable, or in my case, not lady-like… but, that’s their culture. When you look up “burping as a compliment” Google returns a response. When you look up “crying as a compliment” your first link is to a site for social anxiety support. Well, hello America!

You may have seen the Shark Tank episode (aired on October 3, 2015) with Mikki Bey. Spoiler alert: She cried during her pitch. It was clear to me why the Shark Tank producers chose this segment for the show: It’s controversial. Thus, I appreciated the conversation. Barbara Corcoran responded: “Women in business have to learn how to cry in private.” And then went onto say, “The minute a woman cries [she is] giving away her power.” Kevin O’Leary said, “Money doesn’t cry for you [in the tank]. Don’t cry for it.” And so the conversation began… thank you, Mikki Bey.

Crying, for me, is like burping in Turkey, India, and Saudi Arabia. It’s a compliment. It means you’ve stirred my emotions in a way that I’m going to share with you in the form of waterworks (whether I choose to release the floodgates or not). Movies, TV shows, books, notes (of all forms), commercials, billboards, podcasts… you name it, I’ve shed a tear. My tears should be seen as a compliment to how much and how deeply you’ve touched my life. Oftentimes in business it means that I care. Whether I should care or not is always another question… but it means that I care so much that it’s worth a second look at why.

Looking back at Mikki Bey’s segment in the tank, the rest of the Sharks didn’t take much of a stance (they appeared a bit uncomfortable)… but, to keep with the theme and to continue the business discussion, I’m going to borrow Mark Cuban’s stance on whining from his book when he says, “What I don’t understand is why so many people think whining has a negative connotation. I don’t. Whining is the first step toward change. It’s the moment when you realize something is very wrong and that you have to take the initiative to do something about it.” Sub whining for crying and that’s how I feel. 

“You have to feel it to heal it.” - Unknown

What this Unknown person has said to me is that because I “feel” a lot I have a lot of “healing” to do. To some extent I would agree with this (we all do!), but at the end of the day, and especially in business, I’m going to take a more proactive and complementary approach to the situation: [Crying] is the first step toward change. Be it time, money, effort, or energy… if I’m shedding a tear about it, something has got to give and it’s up to me to take the initiative to figure out what “that” is. In some cases that might be one of the more personal decisions to make in business, but in others it might just be taking the time to talk the tears out so that you can understand what it is that I (or any other employee) care(s) about and why.

Debra Swersky