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When I casually admitted to being a finalist in a Junior Miss-type pageant, I was double dog dared to share a picture of myself for #TBT (Throw Back Thursday). My friends today know me as the camper, hiker eco-chick who wears her Birkenstocks everywhere.

In other words, Elspeth in a gown, taking a stage is kind of like saying, “Did you see that flying pig? Was it wearing lipstick?”

But for me, the issue of authenticity that everyone is raving about these days went much deeper. Every time I thought about the pageant, I thought about the girl who took the crown…

Authenticity has become not only a buzz word in marketing, but a gauge by which we decide whether or not to buy from someone. In fact, Kathleen Gauge recently told me her most unsubscribes ever were when she admitted to her list that she was “coming out of the closet.”

Elspeth, she said, when we admit to everything about who we are, we have nothing to hide. And when we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear. With nothing to fear, you can go out and accomplish absolutely anything.

What does authenticity mean to you?

Take a minute to assess for yourself what you think being authentic means. Is it:

  • Full disclosure, giving the details
  • Speaking honestly, from the heart
  • Caring more for serving than profits?

No one has fully defined how we should be applying the term to business, but the ever-helpful Webster says, “Of undisputed origin; genuine.”

Ok, so the other side. At what point does someone become inauthentic, meaning, “not in fact what it is said to be”?

Lessons from the Get Motivated seminar 

On Tuesday, I attended an event called Get Motivated. Watching speaker after speaker take the stage gave me ample opportunity to recognize the speaking styles that made me “tune out” and those that got me immediately hooked.

Omar Perieu, for example, had my full attention for the full 20 minutes he took the stage. I am still repeating parts of his speech. What made him authentically connect to the audience?

  • He started with a compelling story of his family’s arrival from Cuba
  • It was purely his talent & drive that got him to where he is now
  • His passion was sales mentoring; he was an entertaining coach

Beyond all of that, he brought so much energy to the stage. His confidence made you believe every word that came out of his mouth. So, authenticity is also the confidence we have in our own beliefs about what we do, yes?

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How can you use authenticity in your business?

Being authentic helps you connect with your clients. People buy from people they know, like & trust. When you are believable, you will make more sales simply because others will believe too.

Therefore, you have to dig a little deeper into your mindset around who you serve & how you serve them. You need to become intimately aware of your feelings about your products & services.

For most of us, this is very easy. We KNOW our services help people. So, the second piece is, quite frankly, whether you’re offering something people actually want to buy from you.

If you haven’t been reaching your goals, ask:

  • Could my personal mental block be causing this?
  • Am I putting myself out there enough?
  • Do people want to buy what I’m selling?

 

What are you hiding and/or afraid of?

Guess what? Your personal fears hold you back from being authentic. That’s a deep one, so let it sink in for a second.

If there is something you aren’t saying – a secret you’re holding inside – it could be just as detrimental to your progress as any of the above sales points.

Let’s go one step further with this; what would it look like for you to share that secret? How would you feel if you started to USE your deepest, darkest “thing” to serve others?

You’re divorced three times. You hate your body. You have no sex drive. You regularly binge eat. Whatever the “things” are – how can they make your brand more authentic?

Did Elspeth win the beauty pageant? 

Not a chance. The one male judge looked at me during questioning and asked, “What’s your fantasy?”

And his use of the word fantasy (I was 17) threw me so hard into left field that I sputtered something that probably just made all six of them cross out my name completely – even without seeing my bad aerobic dancing in the fitness routine.

The girl who won, though, is what sparked me to go on this mind trip into the questions of authenticity. While I was railing against gun violence (seriously, that was my platform) and reciting Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman, <Girl’s Name> was preparing for nursing school.

I’d have been ok with her perfectly canned Americana answers helping & serving & baking pies yada yada yada…if it wasn’t for her altered outward appearance. While the pageant folks pounded into us the idea of “inner beauty” and “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” <Girl’s Name> was…well, a big fake.

She had a fake tan, dyed blonde hair, bleached teeth, and false green contact lenses. Her talent was dressing up in a frog costume to sing, The Rainbow Connection.

And I’m not saying she didn’t deserve yet another crown, or yet another scholarship (she was a regular on the pageant circuit.) I’m just saying that, between you and me, does all that altering of her human appearance really make her an authentic beauty?

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Elspeth Misiaszek is the innovator behind eMarketing Copywriter. She believes you deserve to profit from your passions & has dedicated her business to mentoring others to do what they love & love what they do. Grab your 10 Free Email Marketing Templates to really rock your writing.