Is there a better way to be authentic in your business?

A topic I get asked about a lot is authenticity. What does it mean? How much of yourself do you need to share? Everyone seems to be told to be ‘more authentic’. So when I saw Debbie Clarke was giving a talk on whether ‘authenticity is a wanky red herring’ at MarketEd.Live, I couldn’t wait to hear what she had to say.


Debbie said: “I asked people what does it mean to be authentic. And I got things like ‘trust’ and ‘reliability’ and ‘genuineness’.


“If someone meets you in real life, having known you, they shouldn’t have any surprises. I like that. I’m the same person that you’ll see on social media and that you might meet now. You get to decide how much of yourself you put out there.”


But do we care? Debbie asked. Do customers care about authenticity? Does it make a difference to a company’s success?

Debbie Clarke stands in front of a whiteboard with 'How can I be authentic?' written on it
Debbie Clarke asks 'how can I be authentic'

Thinking about Donald Trump, Debbie said: “He’s not really authentic is he? But he wears a badge of authenticity.”


Which led her on to thinking about ‘wedge issues’ where people stand for a point of view on a contentious issue because they think that will make them popular with their target market. They don’t necessarily care about the issue themselves, but they know it chimes with the people they want to buy from them (or vote for them).


You can sound authentic without being authentic.


So is authenticity as pure and desirable as we think it is?


Possibly not, but Debbie has an alternative focus for us: values. What are your values? What are the things you live by, that you genuinely care about? And instead of a mission statement, where you say what you stand for, how about a different approach?

A slide showing a list of potential values
Debbie Dooodah's slide with a list of values

Debbie said: “If you’re going to have a mission statement, write something that makes sense, that you can get behind. Don’t just fill it with fluff that sounds good.


“I was listening to [David Hieatt] speak and he was talking about these things, mission statements, and how they can be a bit wanky, and he said they have a mission question.


“It’s a mission! Let’s make it a thing that we do, let’s make it an action. For Hiut, their mission is ‘how do we reduce the impact of making jeans on the environment every single day?’ Great! So every day we come to work and we go, how can we make this process better?”


What is your mission question? Mine is helping  business owners encourage themselves and raise their visibility so they can achieve what they want to do.

Picture of Rachel Extance

Rachel Extance

Award-winning journalist and blogger. I help service-based business owners communicate who they are, what they do, and why. If you struggle to talk about yourself on your website or your content marketing, get in touch with me.

Share this


Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Content Disclaimer

The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. The Story Cave Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.