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What a convicted felon can teach you about deepening your relationships and winning customers.

Would you believe me if I told you that some of the best bread I have eaten was created by an ex-convict? Well, it's true, no I didn't work in a prison bakery, I read it on a package of bread. In an act of brave transparency, Dave's Killer bread printed the story right on the outside of their package.

Transparency is a funny word,  a word that we see thrown around in articles often. We want people to be transparent in the form of honesty in personal relationships while we urge companies to respect transparency in their business operations.

So what is transparency and what does it mean for us as people? Some of us see it as dizzying pile of ideas that make little or no sense to us,  others see it as the willing act of being clear and easy to understand in all we do.

Transparency can be a friend and a foe, it can make people applaud us for being brave or loathe us for our imperfections. In either case we need to take a gamble and honor what transparency means to us. We need to go with it, fully understanding that not everyone will like what they hear.  Yet, putting into action this bravery and conviction for realness can pay dividends with the right people.

A good friend wants to know the real you, they know in doing so they will have the opportunity to deepen a relationship that at best, without it,  will remain one dimensional and surface. When knowing a person more fully we open up the possibility for a deeper more meaningful connection.

We see too often in the media how a false sense of perfection can explode in someone's face. People seem much less forgiving to those that sit upon their high horse and lecture at the mortals below. For those that have been brave enough to be transparent in their life it often seems people can be more forgiving, even cheering people on while they go through a difficult time.

Admitting that you’ve goofed disarms critics and makes employees more apt to own up to mistakes. -Harvard Business Review

We are all fallible creatures and so, it seems less daunting when a human is proved to be human as opposed to a pseudo God falling down to the Earth and being forced to walk in human shoes like the rest of us. As human we connect when we feel accepted and have a mutual experience or understanding to share. When we are transparent with the right people the right people are transparent with us and that is where the magic of excellent connections intersect.

A great example of transparency that has been so very beneficial is the story of Dave's Killer bread.

Dave spent 15 years in prison, upon his release his older brother gave him a job which was a second chance at a new life. You will find this story on the outside of every bread package. Dave turned his second chance into a thriving business that employs ex-felons, offers grants to organizations serving at risk youth and has a loyal and growing customer base.

Dave was able to leverage transparency and use it to his benefit. His story added character to his product, which gave store buyers and retail customers a real person to get behind. Most of all, his truth gave people a handshake of humanity, Dave wasn't trying to be anyone but Dave and sell his bread under a very real and honest premise. Transparency may be just the ingredient you need to separate yourself from the herd of bland mediocrity.

What story do you have to share that can make you or your company a delicious rarity in a world of copies. What steps can you take to make your story part of your mission? How brave are you to trust that it will pay you dividends that you may never see otherwise? Can you think of a way to begin implementing a transparent strategy to your life or business? Can you wade through the fall out for the awesomeness it can bring?

Today is the day to begin using your unique story to build deeper relationships with your family, friends and customers. Vulnerability is a rare commodity, take what you have and let it shine for you.

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