The Word Authentic
The wild wild west
I've been pushed around on the internet before. I wouldn't necessarily call it bullying...
Mostly because I drew the attention to myself and started the conversation.
But maybe it was.
At the time, I was actually standing up to someone I perceived as a bully.
And people were like...
WOOOOAAAHHHH. Dude. You can't do that.
In the end, I realized it wasn't my fight.
And that probably has a lot to do with why it came off so terribly.
The internet has fostered the creation and growth of many new types of businesses and communities.
For the most part, it's an amazing thing.
In some cases though, it's the wild wild west out there.
I recently read a great article on the word AUTHENTICITY and it got my wheels turning.
A lot of my clients suffer from a deep-rooted sense of confusion when it comes to AUTHENTICITY.
They feel intimated by the word, like they're not sure what it means.
My reaction always goes a little something like this...
Let's just look it up in the dictionary!
And they look at me like I'm craaaaaaaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzy.
The actual definition of authentic
But like, let's do that.
Let's make sure - before we move forward - that we're clear on what the word AUTHENTIC actually means.
DEFINITION OF AUTHENTIC
Not false or copied. Genuine. Real
Having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence. Authenticated.
Entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experience.
Executed with all due formalities
Now I can see where all of the confusion comes from.
When I initially read the definition, soooooooo many topics came to mind.
It was like my brain was flooding with past business and relationship experiences to draw from, and I just wanted to verbal vomit all over my computer screen.
My nails are really long right now though, and I can't type fast.
I had to strategize and plan this post.
Copy smopy whatever
When I first started writing songs, I wanted to be just like Bob Dylan.
Then it was Springstreen. Then Ryan Adams.
I would fall madly in love with these wonderfully talented men, and my writing style would shift to resemble theirs.
I was in my early teens and super impressionable. I taught myself how to play guitar by looking up the guitar tabs to some of their songs online. At first, I would literally copy their chord progressions.
As I got better and more immersed in my craft, I found myself thinking more critically.
From there, my own personal songwriting style was revealed.
When I started doing hair for beauty and fashion editorials, my team and I would put together PINTEREST boards of inspirational images to help centre ourselves on the overall concept.
In the old days, we didn't even make our boards secret.
We didn't have a following so technically nobody looked at our boards anyways.
Nobody cared enough.
I remember with one shoot in particular, we mindlessly found ourselves copying a famous photographer. The inspiration we pulled spoke to us so deeply, we literally re-created one of the images.
It was an honest mistake by zealous, hungry artists, and we were smart enough to recognize the situation in post and hold that image back. It never saw the light of day. I don't think.
You're probably seeings where I am going with this.
If the word AUTHENTIC means you can't copy anyone, then NONE of us are authentic.
I don't know about you, but I resent the fact that Dictionary.com is aligning the word copy with the word false.
Everybody copies. Everyone.
At some point in your creative career, you're going to copy someone.
When it comes to social media, it is rare to find original ideas these days. In business, it's much easier - and often times far more profitable - to follow a formula.
You can't always be the LAB. Sometimes, you have to be the FACTORY.
If you are a creative entrepreneur - probably why you're here - copying other people at some point is going to be an integral part of your creative process. For a lot of creatives, it's how we learn.
The point is to get beyond being a copy-cat. You have to work hard to develop your own style and voice.
And doing just that takes a lot of time, experimentation and self-awareness.
Some creatives will never grow beyond the space of copying other people. And that's a shame.
Let's all admit that we've done it though.
Cause that's the truth.
Okay... Fuck it.
We're all doing our best.
There's the odd psychopath out there who really wants to make other people miserable.
But for the most part, we're trying.
We're fallible humans and we make mistakes.
I've become vary wary of working with people who can't seem to understand that.
The internet has magnified our less-than-desirable traits.
We feel comfortable judging people from the protective confines of our own personal space.
And while I've done it just like you've done it, that doesn't make it cool.
In my very humble opinion - if I may be so bold - I think we're using the word AUTHENTIC - more often than not now - to judge our fellow creatives more than we're using it to describe them.
IT'S LIKE A THREAT
We've decided that if someone in our industry isn't being AUTHENTIC, they aren't deserving of success.
And I'm just not so sure we're qualified to make that decision.
Because when it comes down to it, who am I to really know another person's truth?
Why can't I just focus on my own shit?
I enjoy the process of learning from other people. I think my colleagues and my fellow entrepreneurs are perfectly positioned to aid in my overall growth as a creative, so when someone points out an uncommon or unpopular point of view, I am in this place right now where I am trying to see it for what it is.
Let me put it this way...
I value my mistakes far more than I value my accomplishments.
And I reserve the right to make more.
If you're interested in working with me, the losses are going to ride along with the wins.
That's just a given.
Putting yourself out there takes guts.
I KNOW IT
In my last business, I was never in front of the camera.
It was easy for me to disassociate from the voice of my brand, even though I was overseeing every tiny aspect.
And now I understand that putting yourself out there is difficult.
My ability to take my own images and create my own content is something I now hold very dear.
It is a skill - no matter your industry - I highly recommend everybody learn for a number of reasons. I understand the value of beautiful imagery when it comes to brand development, but I didn't always have the best experiences working with photographers, not owning the work and not being able to access the photos when I really needed them.
My background as a Creative Director is in the beauty industry, so I look at beauty re-touching and the overall industry of beauty a little differently than maybe someone else would.
Learning how to use Photoshop to polish my images and market myself is not lying or faking or being unauthentic.
To me, it's being professional.
I recognize the challenge and the difficulty of creating beautiful images. I have seen how much work goes into building a visual portfolio and how hard photographers work to become great at what they do.
HATS OFF TO YOU GUYS
When women hate on each other for photoshop-ing their selfies online, I feel kind of sick to my stomach.
Can we evolve beyond these silly notions? I believe good marketing requires a little theatre.
A little glitz.
I value the art of marketing. The craft of marketing. I love it when I see a woman working hard to build her knowledge and her arsenal of marketing tactics tools.
Don't hate on someone because they are attempting to hone their polish.
We're all in this together and we're all trying to move forward and we're better than our hate.
If you don't like someone's voice online, or you don't click with them, great.
They don't need to know all the reasons you find them offensive or stupid or whatever else.
Can I draw your attention to my initial sentences in this article?
Yeah. I learned that lesson the hard way.
It's not your fight.
The unpopular vote
This brings me to the unpopular vote.
Just because a group of creatives have decided that the direction they're headed in is the way to entrepreneurial enlightenment, doesn't mean you have to blindly follow them.
I know it's hard. It's fucking hard to go your own way. I've been there.
But it's worth the effort.
The word AUTHENTIC has morphed to mean many different things to many different people.
In branding development, AUTHENTIC is often used to describe the magic aspect to a brand's story.
Some brand developers believe that AUTHENTICITY is a tool.
That it can be created and used to sway public opinion.
All you have to do is perform a simple online search to realize that business owners everywhere are now looking to develop their AUTHENTICITY. The countless how-to's on the front page of google attest to that.
And yet, if we look at the definition again, these brand developers kind of have a point.
Something that is unpopular at first can become AUTHENTIC - that is, if enough people decide to agree that it is.
It happens all the time.
People discuss the AUTHENTICITY of principles I don't necessarily condone or share.
Or find AUTHENTIC for that matter.
And that's cool.
In today's wild and free world, it comes down to your environment.
AUTHENTICITY is kind of like success.
If you find yourself in a circle of people you feel disconnected from ethically, don't stay there.
Being AUTHENTIC can feel foreign and weird and ridiculous.
And even lonely.
Follow the law
This is where I get all excited. But like, not excited in a good way.
UP IN ARMS
Because when it comes to being creative, rules were made to be broken.
We're supposed to experiment and try new things. We're supposed to explore our craft and immerse ourselves in new ideas and reconstruct our old ways of thinking so the colours of our art shine bright.
I've worked with artists in the past who are so inflexible, I find myself feeling quite sad. They govern themselves by a set of rules so strict, they lose any and all wonder associated with their art.
It's stressful to watch.
Because it's like all the joy is being ripped out of a person and it sincerely affects their ability to grow.
In business, there's this notion of the WAY.
The WAY things are done.
A lot of my clients feel this pressure. But here's the deal...
IT'S A BIG LIE
The best part about running your own business is that you get to decide for yourself.
If you haven't written your core beliefs as a creative entrepreneur, I highly recommend trying this exercise.
Write down three core beliefs.
These beliefs can be anything you want.
Maybe you want to treat people with kindness and always speak the truth. Maybe you don't want to compromise on quality. Maybe you want to make a difference in the lives of your colleagues.
Ad the following line to round out your core beliefs from three to four.
I will always be flexible.
When I started www.storyofmar.com, this was one of my mandates -
I reserve the right to change my mind.
AND I HAVE A LOT
I didn't start running my own businesses to be employed by the rules.
I don't like having a boss.
Don't let other people pressure you on the rules. Instead, think critically.
And decide things for yourself.
Authentic + not authentic
When my clients bring up this topic in their coaching sessions, I always feel for them.
There is so much pressure associated with running your own business these days.
So much needless shit happening in the world.
I'm just sick of focusing on the negative.
I want my clients to feel free and encouraged to explore their creativity and their growth as entrepreneurs in a way that builds confidence and love.
I don't want people to feel so scared of fucking up that they never try.
Because that's sucks.
I feel like the word AUTHENTIC has become somewhat dirty.
Like PERFECTION and MOIST.
I mean really, who likes to say the word MOIST.
Let's all do ourselves a favour.
Let's admit and agree that being AUTHENTIC means we're not always AUTHENTIC.