Authenticity, a characteristic often over looked yet extremely important in the business world. Simon Sinek describes it very well when he says, “Being authentic is saying and doing the things you actually believe.” Authenticity is so important when creating deep meaningful connections with people and in developing trust with new people. There is only one you, so why try to be anyone else? Let’s talk.
What does Simon mean when he says the above quote? I think it has to do with the false fronts a lot of us put up in our lives. We have the technology and media capabilities to not only alter our image, but create an image that may not resonate with our true selves. Simon Sinek says that the things you say and do are symbols for what you believe. Your actions should simply be the proof of your values and principles. These symbols that you put out will attract people to you even if they are not the type of person you want to be involved with. This is why Simon emphasizes authenticity so much, because if you are not authentic you may not be attracting the type of person that has the same set of beliefs.
So what does this look like? Simon uses Apple often in his examples, but I would like to focus on another company, New Belgium. They are a brewery based out of Fort Collins, CO specializing in making craft beer. I have taken multiple tours of their facility and love the product that they put out. Yet it’s not just the beer that draws me and the other customers that buy their product. They have a set of values and culture in their company that draws you in when you meet with the employees and visit their facility. I was talking with one of their managers who told me that they have between 300-500 applicants for every position they post, even their janitorial positions! It shows that what you are doing is not as important as why you are there. New Belgium has created such an amazing environment that people want to be there, regardless of what they are doing.
Some businesses are very authentic. They show their true vision and values to their employees and their employees reciprocate that to their customers. This is what creates true loyalty. When you begin to build a bond with your customer that is beyond just your product and differentiating value proposition. It goes deeper than that to create a meaningful bond. We develop trust with these companies and know that they have our best interests in mind.
I want you to think of companies that you are loyal too. For me some would be Burton snowboards, Nike, REI, Illegal Pete’s, and Clif bar to name a few. Now I want you to think about places you are not loyal too. For me it would be grocery stores, gas stations, and fast food restaurants. Now I want you to think why? When someone begins to question why you are loyal, there are two typical responses, defensive or emotional. In both these responses you will see a transition to a rational train of thought. You as a human will try to quantify your feeling behind the emotion. Responses such as, “They have great customer service, their employees are always helpful, they always have stock, etc…” are said because as humans we cannot quantify our emotions. It’s based in biology. The area of the brain that is responsible for language and rotational thoughts is not the same area responsible for emotions, so we transition from an emotional state to a rational state. This is why being authentic is so important. If you put out symbols as a company you will attract customers and you will begin to build a following, but if you are not authentic in what you’re doing you will destroy your reputation at the first sign of deception or manipulation of those customers. This is why I think I am not loyal to the above companies as the transaction time I s often quick and I believe they are in it to make money rather than care for their customers.
Authenticity matters, in the business world and in our personal lives. What you say and do should simply be proof of your beliefs. So next time you go to post that selfie with a filter, or retweet an article just remember that what you say and do are symbols and you will begin to attract people to those symbols you are putting out. Are they the people you want to be bringing into your life?