Jory: Authenticity in Business (and Life)

Each Morespace author was paired up with another one, and we spent lots of time reviewing each other's essays and offering feedback. My partner was Jory. She was a tremendous help, as she spent hours on the phone with me demanding that I ground my generalizations and saying "rob_business I don't understand where you are going here." But I don't want to focus on my essay, I want to focus on Jory's.

Her essay is about authenticity, and it is impressive. She weaves back and forth between events in her own life and events in her company, showing how at times she and the company she worked for were inauthentic. It's no way to live life, and it no way to run a company.

People can smell a fake. If you are inauthentic, sooner or later it will show. Your customers and employees and other stakeholders will all know it. Jory gives an example in the book when she says

To me, getting jobs was tantamount to having a bag of tricks. I could pull any combination of delightful qualifications, based on the hiring manager's mood and what I'd read about the company's culture.

That's not authenticity, and the only place that behavior will get you is to a state of unhappiness with your work.

People and companies tend to shy away from being authentic because it means exposing the bad right along with the good. That's hard to do because we live in a society that likes to sit in glass houses and throw stones. We are afraid of being called out for our mistakes, but read what Jory has to say in her post about her essay.

One of the messages from BlogOn that stuck with me was this: if you want to truly engage with customers, give up control. Quit trying to look perfect, like you know more than they do about your product, because these days that's impossible. And even if you did you would bore people. Tell us what you did wrong, what you learned, and how you fixed it. Remind us that there are people under the hood.

It no longer pays to be the Best; it pays to be the most authentic.

I sensed some frustration from the PR Industry people in attendance at BlogOn, who had the best of intentions, but were tired of Utopian, self-employed people like myself telling them to be themselves. I understand that this is like having your picture taken by some annoying schmoe who insists that you loosen up. Just the act of trying to loosen up is fake. If you were in your most natural state you'd tell the photographer to shut the hell up.

This essay is an unusual one for a business book, but that is why it is so important – you won't find many others writing about this. Hop over to Jory's place and let her know what you think about her essay. Or even better, pick up your own copy of Morespace.

How to Have Better Business Meetings