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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  October 18, 2011

What’s Authentic?

I’m hearing way too much advice about being “authentic”.  As in “just be authentic and everything will be okay”.  Really?  If that’s the case, why are there so many “authentic” experts out there being ignored?

That’s like showing up naked and asking folks to accept who you are.  This hogwash and an excuse for intellectual laziness.  Buyers do have expectations about how we communicate our ideas.

Let’s assume that we have compelling ideas our buyers want to hear.  Here’s what decision-makers also expect of thought leaders:

  • To be comfortable in our own skin.  There’s no need to be flashy or outgoing if you are naturally shy.  They are wide open to a wide variety of styles.  Whatever your natural style is, buyers expect you to accept yourself enough to embrace who you are.
  • To be confident in your communication.  Too many of us hedge our bets, trying to please everybody.  Result:  we can look wishy-washy, and uncomfortable with our views.  This makes them nervous and wonder if we really know what we’re talking about.  Let’s make our brilliance look effortless!
  • To be succinct.  They don’t want a bunch of funny stories without a point; they don’t want to spend a lot of time on extra words.

Yes, buyers expect us to be clever and have a sense of humor.  They also expect us to be able to draw distinction and to have a nuanced point of view.  But authentic?  Sure.  As long as “authentic” doesn’t mean “come as you are”.


About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.