I had dressed for a morning at the gym and my schedule changed abruptly. I needed to head to a business meeting with a make-up free face and my casual capris.

Did I dare let my wrinkles and scars show? I decided to grin and bare it!

The meeting was wonderful and I actually felt very relaxed. I learned a lesson that applies to other aspects of my life.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more comfortable revealing facts and feelings that I would have kept to myself 20 or 30 years ago. But beware…the line between transparency and TMI can be as thin as a well-tweezed brow!

The tendency to divulge personal information increases with age, according to one study. Oversharing can cost you job opportunities too. Prospective employers don’t want to hear about your dental implant or bone scan. Your aging body parts should remain private.

I recently taught a webinar on lessons I’ve learned (professionally and personally), and my second slide was a picture of a junk drawer and skeletons in a closet. I spent a few minutes talking about one of the worst periods in my life — when I lost most of my right lung to a benign tumor, my father (who was my rock and mentor) dropped dead suddenly, and our babysitter totaled our car when driving drunk after curfew.

These revelations were not part of a self-pity party, but rather a lesson in resilience. I will never forget those rotten years (and there have been some since that rivaled that one), but others need to know that we all have them and figure out ways to heal and rebound.

How much information is too much information?

Recently, a woman entrepreneur posted a video on LinkedIn, talking about the details of her divorce and how it had an impact on her business. I appreciate her candor and bravery, but wondered how I would feel if I were one of her clients, paying for 100 percent of her focus.

So, when do you let your bare face show?

  1. When you’re in the right environment. Just as I will usually take steps to dress up and glam up for really important work situations, I don’t reveal my private life in professional settings (unless I have a compelling reason to do it).
  2. When it’s clean and fresh. No one except your close friends and family wants to hear an endless rambling spew about your issues. If you’re going to let it all hang out, ask yourself, “Am I doing this just to vent or do I need something from the people in my confessional?”
  3. When it enriches your public image but doesn’t define it. If you become known as that person who is always over-sharing or replaying your woes, even your closest friends may eventually shy away.

I have become much more comfortable selectively sharing some of the unpleasant and challenging times in my life with others and the reaction has been largely positive. People who may have viewed me as “Wonder Woman” have come to realize that I have scars and missing parts (literally and metaphorically). Opening up that channel of communication can sometimes take relationships to a new level.

If given the option, I’ll apply at least a little mascara and lipstick before I step out in public. But I’ve made peace with selectively displaying signs of my age and stage.


  • Nancy A Shenker

    The Silver Hair Playbook: How to Be a Bad Ass >50™

    Nancy A. Shenker is a marketing innovator, brand builder, writer, speaker, and self-proclaimed rule breaker. Over the course of her 40-year business and marketing career, she has been a C-level executive, an entrepreneur, and a mentor to hundreds of small businesses at all stages. Founder of theONswitch marketing, Nancy was formerly a senior executive for major consumer and business brands, including Citibank, MasterCard, and Reed Exhibitions. She has written four books, and publishes a women’s entrepreneur community (www.sheBOOM.com), as well as AI/machine learning/robotics site www.EmbracetheMachine.com and travel and lifestyle site www.BleisureLiving.com. She also wrote a column for Inc.com called Bots & Bodies (about the human side of tech) and is a contributor to a wide range of consumer and business media. She recently won the "Killer Content Award" for a major project for a fast-growing technology company.