Lessons In Authenticity

Six years, three universities, and a couple part time jobs and I finally walked out of UNC-Charlotte with a college degree in Marketing. What do I have to show for it? 

This blog post. 

It’s called investing in your mind, kids.  

No, I’m only joking. Sort of. 

I just got back from from a Network Marketing conference in San Diego and all my old marketing notes are at the front of my mind. 

Marketing can be a pretty cool thing. You can bring products and services to the awareness of people who truly need them and change lives. You can also use marketing to manipulate people and make them buy crap they don’t need to push your bottom line.

This got me thinking about marketing, branding, selling, and the things I love and hated about the Network Marketing community, and how this can help us in our everyday lives. Here’s what I got:

Standing Out in a Crowd

Two guys were pre-gaming at the house with some ice cold Bud Lights, watching Californication, pounding Chipotle. Life is good. 

One of the guys is a killer with the ladies. We’ll call him Bud. The other guy is insecure, lazy, and not so good at talking with women. We’ll call him Light.

Bud offers to help Light get a girl at the bar tonight. He gives him the exact words to say when he sees a girl he likes. 

They walk into the bar, and there are two beautiful twins. And for the sake of the story let’s say they are identical. Actually let’s just say that the twins are a clone of one another; same looks, same brain. Bud & Light say their lines. Bud closes again, Light walks home alone. 

Now any woman reading this will tell you why this happens. Confidence is something that you can’t fake. It’s not the words that our beautiful clone fancied; it was man behind the words. 

We can feel who is being authentic and who is not. My biggest problem with a lot of the network marketing industry is that the 90% of the people involved don’t mean the stuff that comes out of their mouth. And actually, I saw a lot of myself in that 90% and it fired me up! I actually got down on myself because I do that exact same thing. I write about productivity, how to be awesome in relationships, and the importance of building habits yet I procrastinate, struggle winning the “boyfriend of the day” award, and often fail at building sustainable habits.

Then there is the 10% who genuinely like the products they’re selling, they believe in the distribution model, the truly inspire and motivate, and their unapologetic about it. I can appreciate that. 

The other 90% spits out ideas about the Law of Attraction, “you must believe and be positive,” and how leadership works while they’re blindly following and not taking massive action.

Former Neflix VP and branding OG, Gibson Biddle says, “Brands should come from the heart. They are authentic and sustainable.” 

Howard Schultz wasn’t just trying to sell you a cup of coffee, he wanted Starbucks to be an experience. Steve Jobs didn’t want you to just buy his computers, he wanted you to “Think Different.” And the company’s actions are congruent with those ideas. That’s why so many people love these brands. 

It’s true for companies, but it’s also true for people. I couldn’t understand why talking to some people at the conference inspired and motivated me to sign up, and yet talking with others made me want to take a shower. It came down to authenticity. Some people preached entrepreneurship, leadership, and mindset while their actions represented that of an employee, follower, and a reverse mindset of what they were preaching. 

To be likable, charismatic, and personable we have to be authentic, honest, and speak from the heart because people can feel when we’re not.

I know this is typical “just be yourself” and “you can do it” self-development advice, but it’s deeper than that. Everybody has heard “ just be authentic” but the real advice should answer the question…

How To Be Authentic?

What does it mean to “just do you” or “just be yourself?” It’s a nice idea, but it’s not tangible advice. So what does this advice actually mean?

Being authentic is to believe everything you say and do. 

How can I tell somebody that they can’t eat popcorn because it’s bad for their health, when I am notorious for going to the movies and grabbing a large bag by myself?

I can’t. 

But I can be transparent, share that I know popcorn will eff up my health, and work to eat less :p

If you say that your health is important to you then you don’t go to the movies and grab a large (oh yeah, and can you throw some butter on there too?) popcorn and pretend you don’t. If you say and do things that you don’t truly believe, like our friend Light, or the faulty Network Marketers, you’re not going to succeed in what you’re trying to accomplish. 

It’s like a conservative man who “champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society” yet maintains an active profile on Ashley Madison, and molests his sisters. It’s not a good look. 

I’m not saying this is easy. It’s an ongoing practice. I’m a personal trainer who loves popcorn. I’m a guy that was really bothered by 90% of the people at the Network Marketing event, yet still wants to sign up because it’s congruent with my brand and personality. It’s a great protein shake that I researched, and is something I’d recommend to my clients anyway; whether I’m involved or not. 

So here is the bottom line: Practice being honest, self-aware, and then practice self-acceptance. It’s okay to personal train clients and eat popcorn. It’s okay to not like a majority of Network Marketing peeps and still sign up as long as you’re asking the tough questions. Do I believe this? Is this true for me? Why is it true for me? Then OWN the answers to those questions. 

It’s hard to be real 100% of the time, but with practice and time it becomes easier to “just do you” and “be real.” 

What is something that you believe, yet your actions or words don’t reflect? How can you work on that this week? How can you be slightly more authentic than last week? Let me know in the comments. 



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