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I’m Authentic Because I’m Telling You I’m Authentic

by David Brock on September 27th, 2019

Warning To Readers: You may want to be careful in reading this. Apparently, I’m inauthentic. I have been identified as inauthentic for the sole reason that I have written a book. It’s somewhat a surprise to me, I didn’t think writing a book caused me to become inauthentic. I worry about the thousands of authors, probably the majority of which believed in their own authenticity. While many books I read, I disagree with, somehow, I seldom doubt the authenticity of the authors.

If you are choosing to continue to read, knowing that I am inauthentic, I’ll wonder out loud about this concept of authenticity and inauthenticity. This was provoked by a LinkedIn article about the topic in which the author declared his authenticity.

He declared his authenticity because it was rooted in “truth.” Others lauded him on his authenticity and the basis of authenticity being the truth. Of course there was nothing in the post that enabled me to confirm the author was saying anything that was true.

Truth does have something to do with authenticity, but I don’t think it’s about “the truth,” but rather living/acting in a manner consistent with our beliefs and values. In Hamlet, Polonius states, “This above all, to thine own self be true….”

This has nothing to do with “the truth,” or even good or bad. The most hardened criminals, some of the most evil people in past history are authentic. These people have had their own “truth,” values, or beliefs, and have lived their lives based on their own truth, consequently they are authentic.

Somehow, we twist the notion of “authenticity.” We declare people as authentic or inauthentic not based on whether they are in fact being true to themselves and their values. Instead we call people authentic because what we perceive them to be is aligned with our own beliefs and values. Stated differently, those whose views agree with our own are, somehow, authentic, and those whose don’t aren’t.

As a result, the “truth” has little do do with popular views of authenticity, we twist the notion of authenticity to be more about “our truth,” or how well someone is aligned with our values or beliefs.

Without meaning to be political, but choosing a convenient example, there are many things President Trump has said that I do not believe to be true. The same can be said of virtually any other person in politics, Republican or Democrat. And little of what he says or does is aligned with my own value and belief systems. Yet I am terrified, because I believe he is very authentic-he acts in ways that are totally consistent with his values and beliefs.

It is hard for me to understand declarations of those who claim to be “authentic,” since we can only assess authenticity by behaviors, not words.

It is hard for me to associate authenticity with what our jobs are (which the aformentioned author seems to indicate). Yet too many seem to associate authenticity with our jobs. Yet, if you look at the engagement data, for too many people are disengaged or in jobs the don’t like, but do to get a paycheck. That behavior would seem to me, to be inauthentic, but many would view certain jobs as less than authentic.

What does “authenticity” mean in selling and to our buyers? Let’s imagine I am a sales person who doesn’t care at all about the buyer, and am only interested in the commissions I earn. I pitch the customer, I manipulate the customer, I may even lie to the customer to achieve my own personal goals.

While most customers and many sales professionals would view that behavior as reprehensible, it is not inauthentic. What would be inauthentic would be masking our own self interest in a veneer of “customer focus.” (Otherwise called “grin-f**king the customer.)

Authenticity is important, but only in the sense that we tend to align ourselves with people who have the same beliefs or values as we do. But authenticity has little to do with goodness, badness, or even the truth.

But of course, you shouldn’t believe any of this because I wrote a book. I couldn’t possibly be authentic, even though I do hope the book was an expression of my belief systems and values.

From → Leadership

  1. If Dave Brock is inauthentic, then I give up. There’s no truer voice out there than you my friend!

  2. Martiey permalink

    Interesting and thought-provoking post. I’m curious how sales organizations justify the need for authenticity and customer-centric philosophy while churning out comp plans in the name of growth and cross-sell of products that may or may not be a great fit for the customer. How many times has a new rep replaced another only to discover an “add on” was put in place without the customer knowing a) what it is and b) how to use it. Now THAT’S unauthentic.

  3. For your readers, David, some background links.

    The context from LinkedIn:

    Michael: Belal, so David Brock should not be relied upon for his sales advice because he wrote a book? Fascinating.

    Belal Batrawy: indeedleydoo

    The complete quote by the author:

    “Authenticity is inherently bound to truth. ”

    The link to the story is here:

    At its highest, the author is saying that because he is experienced in sales, but doesn’t sell his sales advice he is worth listening to. And people who sell their sales advice are not as worth listening to.

    The proposition is so barren on its face as to be ignorable. But, the thread caught my attention — for the number of “attaboy” comments.

    I wonder what these people were in apparent agreement with?

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