During the Q&A, someone asked him about the importance of transparency and authenticity.
“I think authenticity is overrated,” he said.
The room sat silently puzzled. He continued:
“You know, I hear from some friends that Ellen [DeGeneres] is really not that nice of a person. And when I tell people that, they are utterly offended by the notion and refuse to accept it. And they’ve never even met Ellen! I think people value consistency more than authenticity. No one wants to hear their surgeon talking about everything that is stressing him out.”
We all laughed. It made total sense.
But, I tend to disagree with my marketing hero, here. I think that Ellen’s popularity came from the old model and is so cemented that it’s not in real jeopardy. I do agree, however, that if we saw a leaked video of her cursing out a crew member, it might destroy our image of her. Consistency is more important, in this case.
But for the rest of us who didn’t lay our career’s foundation in the 80’s and 90’s, it’s a whole new world out there.
Although many people might think we are in a time where the opposite is happening — people are living inauthentic lives masked with filters, hashtags, and engagement groups — I’d argue that the people who are their true selves resonate with their audiences most and as a result, are creating the most impact.
Sand Farnia of the Writing Cooperative says:
This shift towards authenticity will only expand. Just take a look at the massive support from young people for the 2 most unlikely presidential candidates: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Whether you like them or not, you know they are who they say they are, and not some contrived version of themselves. That authenticity is their appeal.
Imagine Hillary Clinton or Marco Rubio putting out content, real unedited, unrehearsed content, on a daily basis on Snapchat. Would they dare? It’s hard to imagine because we don’t know the real them. It’s not hard to imagine Bernie or the Donald though.
People are craving authenticity more. And to compound that, trust is at an all-time low and visibility is at an all-time high.
I don’t think we have a choice.
Anything we say, do, or type is likely recorded in some way and this will only increase in the future. This isn’t just the premise of a sci-fi movie, this is real life.
The need for us to say what we mean, mean what we say, and do what we say we believe in is only going to grow. And if we make mistakes, instead of trying to hide our transgressions, we would be better off to admit them, ask for forgiveness, and continue to try to live into our values as best we can.
This is something that I preach to many of my clients. Most of the ones I like to work with are already using some sort of value-based approach to business.
Along with craving something real and wanting truth, my generation and the next are demanding that businesses stand for something.
When I first started a business over 10 years ago, I didn’t want to align myself too much with any cause or community, in fear of pushing away other business. I wanted to leave myself open to work with anybody.
And while I think that we should still keep an open mind and have the ability to put personal differences aside to create good work, consumers now want to purchase from companies that they share values with. And companies are having to take a stance.
Most of the time, this has the opposite effect that I feared 10 years ago. Sure, it will alienate some people. But it will make the people who share your values respect you even more than before. Often, tt creates more work and the ability for us to go deeper instead of broader.
Later today I’m working with a carpentry company that plasters its values on the homepage of their website. If a job does not drive them towards their mission and keep their constitution intact, they do not do it. That is why they are scaling so fast.
They are committed to their ethos.
It is admittedly easier said than done, but I believe we are on the brink of an Authenticity Revolution and the sooner we start being our true selves, the better — for us and for the world.
Rain Bennett is a two time Emmy-nominated filmmaker, fitness professional, public speaker, and writer. His mission is simple: to help people realize that they too can be great, no matter where they come from or what they start with. It just takes passion, persistence, and a plan.
Bennett directed and produced his first feature length documentary in true indie fashion by traveling the world with only a backpack and a Canon DSLR camera. That film, Raise Up: The World is Our Gym won “Best of the Fest” at the Hip Hop Film Festival NYC and received global distribution through Red Bull Media House. He’s been featured in publications like Men’s Health and Sports Business Global and is a regular contributor to Breaking Muscle. When he’s not making movies or training clients at Sync Studio in Durham, he’s hosting a new webseries called The Perfect Workout Show.