What Does it Mean to Be Genuine (Authentic*)?

The World English Dictionary defines GENUINE as:

“not fake or counterfeit; original; real; authentic; not pretending; frank; sincere”

What does it mean to be genuine? For many in the vocal Online and Social Marketing world, genuine seems to equate to transparent, and transparent equates to tells us ALL about you and your life.

Genuine = Transparent                                             Transparent = Tells Us ALL About You

As someone who prefers to keep business and family/personal life separate, I’ve struggled with this idea of total transparency for the sake of being genuine for quite some time. Then I finally came to a realization. This constant barrage of books, blogs, tweets, articles and other messages telling us that we need to be transparent and share our life or tell others about our passions in order to do business, is nothing more than PROPAGANDA.

Wikipedia: “Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience.”

The influencers want the rest of us to think and act as they do. For example, I am in the middle of reading Guy Kawasaki’s latest book, Enchantment. Although I haven’t formed my complete opinion on the book yet, I have noted a few things about his view on how to win people over in business, or “enchant” them. He writes:

“Assume everyone has passions…. It’s your job to find out what it is. Good starting points are kids, sports, travel, and food. If the person has no passions, he might not be worth enchanting.”

He goes on to say:

“In my case, when strangers tell me they play hockey, they lower my resistance to their pitch because we have something in common.”

I’ve read similar comments from other marketers and online mavens who use this as an explanation as to why it’s so important to know the three-dimensional person in order to do business. For me, if I’m trying to make a new friend, or get a date, sure, then I’m likely to be interested in your passions. These will be important for our future relationship. However, if I’m looking to do business with you, I probably do not care if you do, or do not, have passions. Nor do I care if you share them with me. I’m happy to hear about them if you like sharing, assuming they do not overshadow our business. It certainly does not mean I am less likely to do business with you because we don’t share a passion. In my mind, business is separate from my passions, family or personal life. To me this is being GENUINE.

This view should be just as accepted and honored as Guy Kawasaki’s view expressed above, Scott Stratten’s view on personal tweeting or Seth Godin’s view on marketing. We need to be cautious that we do not accept a one-sided view from a more vocal minority. It worries me that book after book, blog after blog, seems to be pushing people into a corner and telling them if you’re in business and you’re not telling the world about your business AND all about yourself, you will FAIL. It sounds silly when you read in black and white, but that’s the message that’s coming through and I’m not the only one who’s hearing it.

At the end of the day, we are working and dealing with people. Lucky for us, all people are different. Some people share more than others. Some of you reading this right now are actively sharing a lot about yourselves online, offline, everywhere. Others are sitting behind your computer screens, happy that I don’t have bionic eyes to see though my words and watch you. In the end, as long as we can continue to share our perspectives, while respecting our differences, we will continue to have a vibrant and TRULY GENUINE conversation.

 

*I am aware that the buzz word is “Authentic,” but if I am to be true to myself, I prefer genuine. Ironically, one cannot be fully genuine if you want to be found in search. Why? Because search depends heavily on buzz words. Therefore, authentic should be included in this post. Funny how that happens ;-).

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About Karin Khuhro

Karin Khuhro is a Digital Marketing Strategist, Speaker and Copywriter. As the owner of Strategy E-ssentials she works with other savvy marketers, digital specialists and business leaders to bring knowledge, know-how and solutions to small and medium sized businesses. Connect with Karin on Google+ or Linkedin.