Can you afford to be authentic in business?

I often say that true authenticity– being exactly who you really are and nothing else– is one of the most important things you can do to help be successful in whatever you’re doing. When I saw this article from Business in Blue Jeans CEO Susan Baroncini-Moe talking about some of the issues people struggle with when trying to be authentic, it really struck a chord. To wit:

  • We’re all works in progress
  • The truth has a way of seeping out
  • It’s not about appearances, it’s about truth
  • The real secret to gaining legitimacy is authenticity

How refreshing to hear someone discussing both the merits and difficulties of being truly authentic. I think her point about achieving legitimacy is key: we can only hope to find it by first gaining trust, and it’s simply impossible to gain someone’s trust by pretending to be something you aren’t.


I often talk with people who are afraid to be authentic for fear that they might offend someone with whom they hope to do business. In fact, the opposite is often the case. By being true to who you are, you’re more likely to connect with someone, not offend them. And, obviously, connecting is far more beneficial than leaving no impression at all. Of course, you certainly run the risk of not connecting– even offending– someone by being yourself. But if the two of you are that diametrically opposed, you’re unlikely to be able to build a meaningful relationship anyway. And wouldn’t it be nice to know that right away?

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