I find it amusing that businesses strive to be authentic, or at the directive of the CEO, more authentic. The thing is, authenticity is the easiest thing there is.

kiara_ via Flickr

Every business is authentic, what choice is there? Authenticity is simply the manifestation of what you truly believe, the core values, the basic identity of the leader of the business. I suppose there are businesses that in the short term can fool people into buying a manufactured brand of authenticity, but in the long run, there’s really no hiding what you stand for.

The question, I suppose then, is does what you believe, what you stand for, allow you to build a business that draws people and things that propel the business upward or merely hold it in a constant state of lifelessness.

Now, here’s the part where it gets a little muddier. Some businesses would thrive if they would simply be authentic instead of attempting to be something that’s wrapped up in the mask of industry best practices.

Best practices rob you of your art. No two businesses are alike, just as no two people are alike. Attempting to copy what works for another business is the surest path to mediocrity that exists.

Success in business comes from serving a purpose or reason for being that is much greater than what your business sells. Knowing why you do what you do and attaching that as the only reason you do what you do eliminates any doubt about the authentic nature of your business.

When you uncover a higher purpose that your business serves, or at least the thing that gives you the most joy, and that becomes the total focus of the business, authenticity simply blooms.

Purpose doesn’t really care what you sell; it’s mostly concerned with why you sell it. Purpose invites others to belong to something that gives them clarity about what they truly believe.

Purpose is authenticity. Purpose is strategy. Purpose is advantage. Purpose is message. Purpose is direction. Purpose is innovation. Purpose is proof. Purpose is community. Purpose is balance. Purpose is your gift.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Keith West

    Kind of like saying “Just be yourself”. The problem comes if whoever you are isn’t likable, prompting the search for a more congenial facade.

  • John,

    I think if more people treated their social media marketing efforts like art instead of business, they would find themselves tapping into real creativity and authenticity. I gave a speech at a travel conference about the art of digital storytelling, and one of the things I said is that we’re all artists now, and what we have at our disposal is an opportunity to go out into the world and create a masterpiece. 

  • Excellent article. Just being yourself in life and in business is truly authentic.

  • jeremybergeron

    what do you think about companies in all verticals taking advantage of the daily deal space? It seems what’s been successful for one has in fact become equally successful for others.. just sayin..

  • BCA

    Well said. There are definitely businesses that are wrapped up in beautiful wrappings are are in essence not authentic at all. “Success in business comes from serving a purpose”- well said.

  • This is a great post. May take a while to work through, but
    thanks for the thoughts

  • I agree with Keith, and I think the bigger your company is, the harder it is to stay authentic.

    • Doesn’t have to be – sure it’s harder but look at Apple – I know everyone uses them as an example, but they’ve got the purpose and authenticity down as one of the biggest.

  • You are right on target John.  When a business loses sight of their purpose, that of serving their customers, this can be reflected in their marketing as well.  Their marketing words are another manner through which their values are relayed to prospective new business.
    Be authentic – work and serve with integrity.


  • I think there’s another layer to this issue – at least for online newbies. The Internet is overflowing with “experts” telling people what they should be doing to make a living online – and of course if they don’t do those things, behave certain ways and follow along to the detail, then they’re sure to fail. Until someone manages to muster the courage to listen to their own voice, it’s pretty easy to blend into the ether and lose site of what “authentic” means for them.