Be Authentically Good

You've seen it in conference presentations, tweets, facebook posts. You've heard it in discussions, webinars and conference calls:  It's the new mantra -- the new admonishment - the key to success for all of us developing the next great brand or the next great customer experience -- especially in social media circles:

"BE AUTHENTIC!!!"

Say it with confetti, fanfare... raise the pom poms high -- as I gag audibly ... Perhaps it's my mood, or the fact that I don't have time to write an overly sensitive post, but I have to call "foul!" here.  The truth is this:

AUTHENTIC ISN'T ALWAYS GOOD!

When I have a bad experience, it's authentically bad.  Perhaps the whole thing sucked.... or maybe a chain of experiences sucked.   I was disappionted.  It was sucky ....and authentically ugly:  None of it was "inauthentic" at all.

THERE IS PLENTY OF AUTHENTIC BAD!

If the experiences we offer our prospects and customers fail to authentically aligned to the values we claim to have, they've gotta be fixed.  If you are on twitter auto following everyone, DM spamming people, and merely tweeting your press releases, you are making some authentically bad decisions.  If you have a broken communications infrastructure where various departments aren't talking to each other -- you've got some authentically bad issues to deal with.  If your customer service is flawed and you are breaking promises and creating ill will - it's authentically ugly to deal with.  The good news is this -- you can choose to...

BE AUTHENTICALLY GOOD!

Authentically good people and brands understand ethics, boundaries, and how to build relationships based on open exchange, giving and reciprocity.  Authentically good people and brands know that they won't always be perfect, but they can admit fault and fix things.  Authentically good people and brands don't rip off the competition -- they learn from the competition, and do things better.  In fact, authentically good people and brands are working hard to "create better" every day.

WHERE ARE YOU TODAY?

Dump the "lemming speak" and focus your energy -- regardless of where you are in the pecking order of your company -- on being authentically good and doing authentically great work.  Speak the truth with love, produce your best, serve others well, think outside your box (and your comfort zone) and strive to make things better.  The best brands alive are defined by the outstanding experiences they deliver.  Make this your focus and you'll feel the difference. Your customers will feel it, too!

4 comments:

Debra Ellis said...

Leigh,

You hit the nail on the head. The "Be Authentic" battle cry provides an excuse for people to be rude, mean, and hurtful to others. If someone calls them out about it, then the response is typically, "I'm just being me."

The irony is that when people tweet sarcastic, anonymous things like "I just received an email from an idiot," everyone who sent them an email that day wonders if they are being called an idiot. In some circles, this is a common practice that is rewarded with retweets and responses. It also widens the gap between the individual or brand and their prospects/customers.

It's wonderful that you are changing the battle cry to "be authentically good." We need more good.

Leigh Durst said...

Deb,

Thanks for your comment. I think everyone has a different definition for "be authentic." I totally agree with your observations here - and that those who are are using it as permission to be ugly, prideful, hateful, arrogant and rude would be well advised to chill!

I think some others use that exhortation to remind people in big brand companies not to act like a robot... or a brand... but to have a personality. Others might define things differently.

Whatever the case, I did think the clarification was worth it and I'm glad you did, too! I feel a sense of relief!

Thanks for your comment!

Leigh

nishland said...

Great article Leigh! I agree using a term like "authentic" so loosely can have its context misconstrued. As well, using it as a blanket statement doesn't do much in explaining 'how' to participate in social media.
I love the idea of being "authentically good", to me that says one has a firm grasp on the values and goals for the company and the impact on their audience is greater. It also signals an effort internally to bridge the gap in inter-departmental communication.

Leigh Durst said...

Tonisha , thanks for your comment. I'd say that it also means people have their own good values in addition to company values... and a central part of that is valuing people. I'm stunned at the indifference I encounter for people and their plight where I travel. :-)

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LEIGH DURST

LEIGH DURST
I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.

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