Sharing The Mess and The Message

Lian Angelino

Lian Angelino is a career coach for female professionals in their 20s and 30s who feel unfulfilled in their careers. During our time together we talked about sharing the mess and the message.

Lian combines her background in Work Psychology, Mental Health Sciences and Leadership Development to help women get clear about what makes them tick and to map out how they can create a life and career based on that.

Besides online career coaching, Lian also offers online consults, for professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders/managers, on how to combat Impostor Syndrome in the workplace or their business.

"When we leave out the messy parts, we leave out part of our humanness and I think that's so important for true human connection." – Lian Angelino @sarahsantacroce #humanemarketing Click To Tweet

In this episode, you’ll learn about sharing the mess and the message and…

  • The quote ‘carry the message-not the mess’ and it’s roots in AA
  • How the opposite holds truth as well
  • Mental health: is it still a taboo?
  • The hero journey and how it’s overrated
  • and much more…

Lian’s Resources

Lian’s Website

Connect with Lian on:



Sarah’s Resources

Watch this episode on Youtube

(FREE) Sarah’s One Page Marketing Plan

(FREE) Sarah Suggests Newsletter

(FREE) The Humane Business Manifesto

(FREE) Gentle Confidence Mini-Course

Marketing Like We’re Human – Sarah’s book

The Humane Marketing Circle

Authentic & Fair Pricing Mini-Course

Podcast Show Notes

Email Sarah at

Thanks for listening!

After you listen, check out Humane Business Manifesto, an invitation to belong to a movement of people who do business the humane and gentle way and disrupt the current marketing paradigm. You can download it for free at this page. There’s no opt-in. Just an instant download.

Are you enjoying the podcast?  The Humane Marketing show is listener-supported—I’d love for you to become an active supporter of the show and join the Humane Marketing Circle. You will be invited to a private monthly Q&A call with me and fellow Humane Marketers –  a safe zone to hang out with like-minded conscious entrepreneurs and help each other build our business and grow our impact.  — I’d love for you to join us! Learn more at

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes or on Android to get notified for all my future shows and why not sign up for my weekly(ish) Sarah Suggests Saturdays, a round-up of best practices, tools I use, books I read, podcasts, and other resources.

Raise your hand and join the Humane Business Revolution.



Imperfect Transcript of the show

[00:00:00] Sarah: Hi, Lian. So good to speak to you today. I’m so excited for our messy conversation.

[00:00:08] Lian: Yeah. Thank you for having me here.

[00:00:11] Sarah: Yeah, it’s a pleasure. So yeah, the topic of today’s conversation is really like sharing the mess. That’s kind of what we thought we want to talk about. And when I did some research on this topic, And I actually I think also you shared this phrase, carry the message, not the mess.

[00:00:32] That’s kind of the commonly used a phrase when I did some research about this. A lot of the links on Google led me back to the AA movement. So alcoholics anonymous. And I was just kind of surprised or curious about it. I don’t know enough about the 12 steps program, but I’m just curious from your to hear, you know, is, is that also where you think this phrase came from, or is there another place where this emerged as this message or this, this phrase carry the message, not the mess.

[00:01:09] Lian: Yeah, I, where I heard it was during multiple programs on visibility, online marketing messaging, the expert, or the coach will always say, like, share the message, not the mess. And they often would refer to like, this is originated from the AA meetings. To be honest, I never researched it. So I think it has become this rule to how to show up in the online space in a way.

[00:01:37] So that’s where I came familiar with the term, but I couldn’t tell you anything about the 12 step program either.

[00:01:43] Sarah: Yeah, it’s interesting. Right? Because it, it really shows as we’re gonna go into kind of this, maybe a bit outdated way of showing up in the. Or at least according to us, because we’re going to.

[00:02:00] Discuss that maybe the opposite may also be true. So actually, you know, share the mess and not just the message to me. It’s almost like when I think of mess and message, it’s like the, an iceberg, you know, usually you have the message, that’s the tip of the iceberg, but then there’s the whole. Which is, you know, the bottom that’s, you know, covered up by water, but it’s still there.

[00:02:27] So that’s what we’re going to get into. So maybe you could share with our listeners kind of like the, the, the. W the reason, or what made you contact me about being a guest on this on this topic?

[00:02:42] Lian: Yeah. I’ve been following you for a while because your topic, your revolution really interests me.

[00:02:49] And one of your emails around. Brendan rebranding process really spoke to me. And then, especially the part where you were explaining to us that you were taking us along on your journey of the whole rebranding and that you were giving yourself permission to be imperfect in this transition. And to also share it.

[00:03:10] The messiness behind the scenes. And I think that’s part really spoke to me because I think it’s not stocked about enough that we should have more conversations about the importance of sharing the mess as well, because like you gave the example of the iceberg we often only show the iceberg above the water line.

[00:03:30] Right. And what’s underneath, we keep it. Hidden away. So yeah, be

[00:03:36] Sarah: that, to have this perfect image that, you know, w we’re like, oh, we made it. And we’re, you know, we’re perfect human beings and that’s what we want to show. And in, in a way, Yeah, it really made me reflect on, on when I saw that this was potentially, and maybe a listener can correct us if we’re wrong, but this is potentially coming from the AA meetings.

[00:03:58] It really made me wonder, well, how, how is that a good thing that you’re using? Teaching this in, in, in these 12 step programs that you’re, you should only share the message and not the mess. Just got me wondering, because as you know, in this recovery process, well, a lot of recovery is probably messy and it’s part of that healing process in a way.

[00:04:26] So I think even though. I think maybe there needs to be a revolution as well and say, well, actually the mess is part of the healing. And so it’s not just about the message, but also about the mess anyways, just, yeah, it got me thinking about that. So, so yeah. Work with people or mainly women in transition.

[00:04:49] And so tell, tell us how this messiness kind of has to do also with the work you do and how you, you know, you kind of step up and help people be more confident about also sharing that.

[00:05:06] Lian: Yeah. I think speaking to the part where you mentioned revolution was needed in, in like the AA space, but also maybe the whole mental health space.

[00:05:17] It’s very true. That professionals are teaching. About disclosure and not disclosing too much of your personal site. And I think that’s also where it’s coming from. So I just wanted to comment on that before I answer your question that I really think at this, a revolution is needed there as well to bring back more human.

[00:05:40] In the mental health space. But to answer your question I think we have been waste with a very linear way of thinking about our careers, but our lives in general, maybe even, and that is also get a lot of people stuck in when they feel stuck in their career and not know how to move forward. It’s because they get stuck in this linear way of thinking where there’s no room for the messiness.

[00:06:06] So it’s kind of like. You go to school, then you go off to college, you pick your major and then you pick a job and that’s it. And then you get a family and a house, et cetera. And in that whole narrative, there is no room for the multi-passionate who likes to do multiple things. Because he or she has picked one major and has to like figure it out within that industry or someone who just wants to transition from one industry to another industry, just because.

[00:06:34] Interests switched. So I work a lot of with a lot of people who are in that space who feel stuck in this linear on this linear path. And because we get picture a lot of pictures of this ideal ways of what success should look like and what careers should look like. I think that, that this really Difficult for people then to find our own ways.

[00:07:01] If. Deviate from this ideal picture.

[00:07:05] Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. I remember it reminds me of you know, in my LinkedIn consulting business, I, I sometimes teach at big schools like MBA programs and so on. And one of the questions is always, well, how do I pivot? What if you know, I have all this experience in this area and how do I.

[00:07:27] Right. My profile or how do I appeal to employers if I want to change to a completely different area in in business or in industry. And, and it’s true that people are completely stuck with this, with thinking that’s it. I, you know, that’s what I, I have to now be in. Industry or sector, but the rest of my life.

[00:07:49] And so I always tell them that, you know, it’s all about the, the, the transferable skills you need to not so much be focused on, you know, the hats you were wearing, but more like, what are the. Oftentimes, it’s also the soft skills that need to be highlighted more and not, not just like, oh, this is, these are the job titles I had and now I’m stuck with those things.

[00:08:14] So I think it’s a really big topic. Does linear sinking you’re completely. Right. And so what are some of the conditioning you think. Comes with that thinking in terms of I’m thinking, you know, about the messiness. So like, well, how are we conditioned from society to behave in a certain way or, you know, appear in a certain way online or in I’m thinking job interviews and so on.

[00:08:45] Lian: I think we’re very conditioned to think that messiness is a reflection of our shortcoming or in any way, like devaluing us and especially in the professional space. And I think depending on, I guess, changes since we been working from home a lot. It’s really like you have this separate segregation from home and work and everything that happens at home, your private lives should stay there.

[00:09:13] And it’s unprofessional to show that in your work and at the workplace, I believe that if you can bring your whole whoop a whole human being to the workplace, including those parts from your private life, that also impact your your whole way of working. And the F and there was also that you can produce that’s very important.

[00:09:35] So I think that’s very well. What I mentioned this conditioning at messiness equals a profession and professional or worthy or shortcomings. I think that’s may need a gore issue or stigma that that’s needs to be Addressed and changed in my opinion. Yeah. Yeah. You’re so

[00:09:58] Sarah: right. And I, we do see small signs that it’s already has been changing definitely over the, the pandemic, right.

[00:10:08] Things are much more blurry now between you know, there’s, the lines are not as clear anymore. I remember. 10 years when I started out with, with LinkedIn and I was telling people, you need to show more of the human side. And those are the main common day I always got. Oh, but this is not Facebook.

[00:10:26] This is a LinkedIn it’s professional. And then, you know, a few years ago, the millennials came in into LinkedIn and they’re, they’re like, well, what’s with the stiff kind of. Platform, it feels, it feels like a chamber of commerce meeting. And so they really started to bring in more of their human aspects and, and yes, maybe some, some kind of went a bit overboard, but, but in the end now we’re seeing a complete different platform than what it was before the millennials came in.

[00:11:00] So you mentioned mental health and it was just mental health day. A couple of days before we’re doing this recording on October 10th and I did see quite a few very vulnerable posts in my LinkedIn feed. Do you see. That is two, does stay still a taboo or will this become something also that is more openly discussed.

[00:11:25] Like the fact that people show up and post on their LinkedIn feed, you know, they’re, they’ve, they’re dealing with something that shows a lot of bravery in my opinion.

[00:11:39] Lian: Yeah. I also noticed the more openly conversations about mental health and especially on LinkedIn, this is fairly noticeable, but I think that the boost still exists.

[00:11:50] Because I always, I also see a lot of steroids, steroids, typical language around mental health and especially around advanced illness. And. I think that having the open conversation is important in the first place, but in addition to that, we also need to be more educated around what is mental health?

[00:12:09] What is, what is it? What is it not? So like debunking the myths around mental health and mental illness, because the stigma and the taboo originates from fair. I think not understanding what it’s about and at least in the Netherlands, we don’t get educated on that at all. Maybe now things have changed.

[00:12:32] Like I went to school a long time ago, but yeah, in my, in my time that I went to school, There was little attention for mental health and just Pope educate me

[00:12:45] Sarah: there still isn’t my teenagers. I know what they’re learning at school and they discuss it more between them. But it’s not a topic that’s being brought up by the school.

[00:12:56] So to me, not much has changed, unfortunately from the school system. Luckily, a young people are just more aware of. They will, you know, address it between them. But yeah, unfortunately it’s still a topic you’re right. That’s where it should start even before, you know, we address it in companies. It’s the school systems that also have to adapt to, to that.

[00:13:22] So true. Yeah. I think another thing we. Maybe have been conditioned in a way is, is an a, and now I’m thinking more about business, as well as this idea of the hero’s journey. You hear that in a lot of marketing programs and in storytelling and stuff like that, where there’s this kind of. Framework, I guess that is the hero’s story arc, where you start from a very bad place.

[00:13:57] And then, you know, you’ve overcome something and now you’re the self-made millionaire. Who’s made it and, and where I agree that that makes good movies. You know, I, I just think it’s also starting to be probably a bit outdated people or at least my kind of people are bored of those stories. It’s like, it’s so predictable.

[00:14:20] It’s like, oh yeah, you’re going to share something. And you know, that you’ve overcome. And now you’re this perfect human being. What do you think has, you know, changed and, and, and w why are those stories maybe not so much appealing anymore to people today? Yeah,

[00:14:38] Lian: I think it’s mainly because it’s just one size fits all story in a way.

[00:14:44] And I think our human experience don’t go, man, this 12 step framework. And when we try. To like distill our experiences into a framework. We lose a humanist in it and it’s not relatable anymore. And we filter out the aspects that do not fit in the framework, which could be very valuable to the story.

[00:15:09] So this is like the messy parts that we kind of feel or filter out. And I think also because we have a lot of more around. Diversity. And this hero’s journey is really the story of this one individual that’s heroic person that’s beating the evil and getting to the successful place. Whereas I think that’s we’re more moving towards also the collective journey.

[00:15:36] We as in society together a community work towards successes rather than just this one heroic person. It’s trying to interfere for the individualistic approach to change. Yeah. I think the awareness around diversity has really made us.

[00:15:57] Sarah: I love that. Yeah. I love that so much. You really brought this to my attention.

[00:16:01] I guess also why to me, I was just like, it felt so pathetic. It’s like, oh, good for you. And it actually did the opposite for me. It didn’t make me connect more with this person. It kind of almost. Made a D a a distance between us, because I felt like exactly. I felt like, oh, good for you. You’re now the self-made millionaire, but I’m still here struggling.

[00:16:28] And so it didn’t create this connection where if I hear a story. W you know, where someone is sharing more of the mass, I feel like, oh, we’re kind of, you know going through our own stuff. And we’re both being human and you have some more success in this area, but you’re still struggling with this.

[00:16:47] And it, yeah, it just feels like you’re connecting more on that really human level. So, thanks so much for sharing that. I hadn’t, I hadn’t really thought about the individualistic approach where it’s like, Yeah. W w we’re not really. Like moving towards a common goal as a society. You’re just sharing your own often because often it is money-related story.

[00:17:14] Right. So it’s like Yon.

[00:17:19] Lian: Yeah, exactly. And it sets the wrong expectations, I think as well, because it really has to sappy. Yeah. Sometimes just pick a

[00:17:28] Sarah: movie and these are fun to watch. Slumdog millionaire comes to mind for me. And they’re yeah, they’re, they’re fun to watch as a movie. But as a, as a, you know, story to connect with it’s, it’s not really yeah, it doesn’t give you that human vibe at all.

[00:17:46] Yeah. So in a way it’s, it’s almost like, do you think that the pandemic has kind of increased our tolerance with messiness? If you think about how these lines between personal and and work. Blurred out. Do you, do you see, think even on the employer side, maybe there’s a bit more tolerance for the personal messiness?

[00:18:13] Lian: Yeah. I’ve heard a lot of stories where managers and leaders were much more tolerance towards. Blending in the private and the work-life. But I’ve also, I think it’s dependent on the person who was leading, because there are also stories of, of managers who still referee in this box thinking of did it want to adjust their, their perspective on it?

[00:18:37] But I think I, in my coaching practice, a lot of clients spoke about how they felt more able to be more compassionate towards themselves and the mess that they were in because where we were all in the same mess. Right. And we couldn’t escape. The mess because we’re, we’re locked in our houses. So I really do think there’s a shift and there’s also this concept of post-traumatic growth.

[00:19:03] And I think meaning get there can also be positive impacts from traumatic experiences or messy experiences in this case. And I think that’s also very much the case when I speak with clients who I like we started out at three way before the pandemic. And they were like we were talking about being more kind to yourself, being more compassionate, thinking, reflecting for yourself.

[00:19:28] What are my failures fathers important to me? And then like during the pandemic they mentioned during the sessions, like, and that was kicked for me now. I understand what, what, what we were talking about. So. Yeah, I think that’s also a puzzle thief shifted that’s come out of everything that’s happened the past two years.

[00:19:50] Sarah: Yeah, really just the kind of a letting go. And I talk about, you know, taking off the mask. That’s what it really feels like to me, a lot of times still in in, in. Business world and, you know, big corporations or even smaller organization where every time, you know, you put on the business mask and then you’re like, ah, finally, you can take it off and now I can be human.

[00:20:15] Well, you know, how unhealthy is that? And how stressful is that? So I’m so glad that we’re moving towards something new, something fresh and, and yeah, it was. Might take some time, but maybe less than we think, because as we said before, it doesn’t necessarily have to be at a linear movement. It can be like, you know, leaps in, in, in that direction.

[00:20:42] So yeah, I’m excited for that. Another thing that maybe we often hear is that we should share the mess once we’ve already processed it and not while we’re living in. What’s your opinion on that? How, how raw can it really be? Or how healthy is it to maybe process it first and then share it?

[00:21:05] Lian: I think it’s very contextual.

[00:21:06] I think it depends per situation because I think it can be very helpful that you shared a mess. While you’re in the midst of it, like while you are still processing but only with the right people in the right place and with the right intentions because it can also go the opposite way.

[00:21:26] And when you share. Too much in the wrong place with the wrong people. It can be harmful not only for yourself, but also for, for example, in the online space for the audience that you’re communicating with. So I think is far important than for what I apply for myself is always having to check in with myself and with my audience before I share anything.

[00:21:51] When I posted still in the post. Of any of the development that I’m going through and really checking in with my intention. So why am I sharing? Why am I willing to share this? So what is my intention? What am I trying to accomplish? And if I says to myself, like I’m looking for validation in any way, that is from.

[00:22:12] For me, it’s like this boundary, like, okay. Maybe share with my boyfriend dark through with them, but not with like social media audience. And also I think checking in with the space itself, like, is this the space where I feel comfortable sharing? Deal with the consequences that may be a result of that.

[00:22:34] And checking in with your audience is maybe a bit more difficult. When, when you’re sharing a line, when we’re talking about online space, you cannot really read the room. So really trying to. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and see how, how can this be helpful for them? I think that is, those are the criteria, at least for myself, that I’m using to really decide like, am I sharing this or is this something that I shouldn’t share for now?

[00:23:02] And maybe later after I propose, assess it a bit

[00:23:06] Sarah: more. Yeah. I love that. I love, I love the. Kind of testing first, you know, am I just looking for validation? I might just looking for kind of a confirmation that I’m really suffering. You know, this victim mode in a way is like often pushes us to, you know, have other people confirm and say, yeah, it’s really bad what you’re going through, but Yeah, then really decide, well, is, does the thing to share it online or is this better?

[00:23:38] Maybe that I share it first, you know, with family and friends and get confirmation from there, from people who can really support me because let’s face it in the online world. Yeah, , you’re not gonna get the same support as from close friends. So I like this kind of processing first and it’s true that in some occasions, probably it might help to share it.

[00:24:05] I think it’s also very personal, like how you. R personally wired and how you process your feelings and in and hurt and, and, and, you know, those kinds of things. Like I know for myself first, I need to. You know, shut everything off and just kind of be with it before I can go out there and, and, and share it publicly.

[00:24:28] So for my, my rebrand, yeah. It took me two months to digest first. What happened before I could go out and, and say, okay, I, you know, I pulled myself together and now I can share really from a space, not from this space of, yes, I’m being a victim, but saying, yes, this was hard. It sucked. You know, here, here is what I’m going to do going forward.

[00:24:55] So again, it doesn’t, it’s this fine line between saying, oh, look at me. I’m perfect because I now have a plan and saying, ah, look at me, I’m really deep in my mess. So. Finding this balance in the, in the marketing, like we’re human book, I share this visual of a pool and say that, you know, you can go in at the shallow and, or you can go in and jumping into the deep end.

[00:25:24] And that’s really where you need to. See how ready your audience is to go in at the deep end with you. And sometimes, really this can be shocking to, you know, whoever you’re talking to. So really you need to kind of use your common sense. And like you said, in the online space, you can’t read the room. So.

[00:25:46] Use common sense and don’t jump in the deep end if people are just not ready for it, but it’s, it’s not easy. I, I, I think we both agreed at it’s. It’s kind of, maybe you screw up a couple of times and then, you know, better next time.

[00:26:03] Lian: Yeah. It’s, it’s really about setting boundaries for yourself and being international, I think.

[00:26:09] Yeah.

[00:26:10] Sarah: Yeah. So maybe just to, to kind of come to a full circle here in a way we’re still saying. Share more of your mess. Why, why do we encourage to people to share more of their meds?

[00:26:26] Lian: I think when we leave out the messy parts, we leave out part of our humanness and I think that’s so important for true human connection.

[00:26:35] So when you. Either if you apply it to marketing, but also in a job interview we talked about the hero’s journey and that can also be like this way in a way, working against a building, establishing a connection. I think adding the, to your story. Helps to foster disconnection. But then also with the nationality and especially in online marketing as online marketers or business owners who are doing the marketing for their services, I think we have this responsibility of this image that we create because we’re very intentional and strategic about the picture that we want to paint for our audience that helps us sell our service.

[00:27:18] But I think that we also should be intentional about to what extent are we showing? The truth and a real picture. And am I leaving out elements in the story that are important for, to, to picture the complete story that I’m leaving out? Just because I think that is not contributing to the ideal picture, perfect image that I want to create.

[00:27:43] So I think that’s the main reason for me, at least that we share more of the mess.

[00:27:52] Sarah: Yeah, so true that once we actually meet the human behind the, you know, the facade, the perfect business, we’re not like, whoa, you know, this is, this is way different from the picture that you’ve painted for me on your, in your online presence or maybe in the past.

[00:28:15] Maybe you did get onto a call with this person, and then it still felt not human. It still felt like you’re talking through the online presence person, but you’re not really talking to the human behind the business. And that I think I still. See a lot of bear that we have this pressure to be this person be this perfect yeah.

[00:28:43] Online business owner and, you know, show up as that, even when we have conversations with our clients. And I think there’s still needs to be a shift and in how, how we should just show up in a way more human way. Hm. So Leanne, tell us what kind of mess you’re in right now. Oh, well,

[00:29:09] Lian: do you have minutes? You want to round off?

[00:29:12] We’re currently renovating in our apartments or I’m in a Detrol mess because we are in a temporary home. The biggest mess that anyone can imagine. So I think that’s the literal mess. And in business-wise I kind of going through a phase that I’m multi-passionate myself and my brain goes all the places like I chase this project and this project, and I find it very difficult now to find this focus.

[00:29:41] So that’s kind of the mess in my head. And yeah, that’s something that I’m dealing with for. The last quarter of this year. And then there’s of course just life other messes in life. But I think given the time,

[00:29:59] Sarah: yeah, yeah. Thanks so much for being transparent. I, I think September for me was just like the messiest months ever.

[00:30:08] Nothing worked the way I wanted it to. It felt like there was just like this big, heavy blanket on. And us, maybe us all, I don’t know. It felt, it was just like me. So, so yeah. I’m I’m today I feel like, oh, the mess is kind of under control, but these things also come in waves. Right. And, and, and then, like you say, life happens, things happen personal things happen and you just get completely off track and then hopefully find your way back.

[00:30:41] So, yeah. This has been really good. Thank you so much for being so vulnerable and open to talk about mess and the messy stuff. Tell us where can people find out more about you and how it is to work with.

[00:30:57] Lian: I think the best way to find me is by looking up my name on LinkedIn, either connect with me there or on Instagram.

[00:31:05] I’m also on my website. Yeah, I’m I, I’m not sure if I I cannot spell my name. Well, I can, but I don’t think in the show notes. Yeah. So you can find me on LinkedIn, Instagram on my website, where I’m sharing more career-related content and content related to front ability sharing the mess like this apple, both.

[00:31:28] And lastly, if you want interesting career coaching, you can also go to my website and find more information about that.

[00:31:36] Sarah: Wonderful. Thank you so much. I always ask one last question and that is what are you grateful for today or dis weekly in?

[00:31:45] Lian: I’m very grateful for the internets because I think it’s enabled me to connect on a global level with so many inspiring people.

[00:31:54] So that’s something I’m very

[00:31:56] Sarah: grateful for. Yeah, it talking about September. We had one day with no internet. Oh my gosh. Yeah. You forget how, you know, you take everything for granted and then you don’t have any you’re like, I couldn’t be in business if it wasn’t for the internet. Yeah.

[00:32:17] Lian: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

[00:32:19] Sarah: Well, thank you so much for your time and being on the humane marketing podcast, I really enjoyed this conversation.

[00:32:26] Lian: Thank you for having me.

The 7Ps of Humane Marketing

Humane Marketing 7ps

Get the Fill In the Blank
One-Page Marketing Plan

Your contact information is safe, and will not be used in ways
other than stated on this page. 

The 7Ps of Humane Marketing

Get the Fill In the Blank One-Page Marketing Plan

Humane Marketing 7ps

Your contact information is safe, and will not be used in ways
other than stated on this page.