• Brandminds 2020

Standing out yet being authentic. Is it possible?

Stela Toderașcu shares her insights on standing out while still being authentic, being yourself. Is it possible? Read on to find out.

Authenticity is a word used by a lot of people mainly working in branding.

Lately, the authenticity of a brand and its communication is sometimes more important to customers than the price and even the product features.

How people choose a brand is quite clear. Is it the same when connecting with people? There is a lot of Personal Branding training that teaches you how to build your personal brand and how to stand out.

To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect — and vulnerable. We have to believe that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are. I’ve learned that there is no better way to invite more grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity.

Brené Brown

Would you prefer to work with someone who is always nice to you, making compliments and praising you for your work?

Of course! It makes you feel good and it builds up your confidence that you’re good at what you are doing.

At the same time, if it is not true, this is not helping your self-awareness and further development. It’s a big difference between being polite and not telling the truth.

Another case is when people pretend to be someone else. Pretending to be smart, happy, wealthy, etc. is like using apps that make your photo spotless, with bright colours, a real chef-d’oeuvre.

Fine, you get tens or hundreds of likes and then what? What does this truly bring you in terms of relationships and communication?

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In my career, I met different people who pretended to be somebody else. There was also a period of time when I thought I was feeling good and happy with what I was doing. But it wasn’t the case. I wasn’t having enough energy, I was getting annoyed really fast and I was procrastinating. These meant that I wasn’t my true self.

Why are we doing all these things? To protect ourselves? To protect others? Are we afraid to lose something? Or are we afraid to let go?

When I moved to Bucharest from the Republic of Moldova, as PR & Advertising Manager, I was really afraid of how I will be perceived.

Will my accent stand out? Will the chief editors of the magazines take me seriously? Will the celebrities I needed to work with have enough confidence in me?

A couple of months into my role, I understood that being myself helped me to make good connections with the stakeholders I needed to work with, gaining their confidence and having the feeling they can rely on me.

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This helped me a lot in my career. Still, there are moments in life when you need to show more than what you are, or you feel the need to prove you are good enough. It’s like in school when a new teacher comes. And even if you are an A grader, you need to show to the new teacher that you deserve the highest grades. In this case, it’s important not to overdo and not to make the distance between your true self and the new you too big.

Also, with age, I think we are getting less courageous, we like to play it safe, and not risk too much. We want to be in control. And this might also affect the way we are showing ourselves in public.

When you have the same job for a long time and you want to be noticed, showing off and making daily compliments to your boss will not help.

First of all, be yourself, bring some ideas that could help the overall business and show your interest in the wellbeing of the whole organization and be professional. This could get you the proper attention from your boss or colleagues.

If you are authentic and you feel at ease, this will show your confidence. It will be visible in your posture, non-verbal language, and tone of voice.

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When you fake it, people can sense it, even if you have exercised it before. I always believed that I could spot fakers at the recruitment interview and I was always good at recruiting the appropriate people who fit in well with the existing team and the job they applied for.

Yet, in my 14-year long career, I was tricked by two candidates. They prepared so well and answered all my questions according to my expectations that I immediately hired them. My colleague from HR was also involved in these interviews and agreed with my choices. But, in a couple of months, it was visible that reality didn’t match the interview. As a conclusion: we have all lost precious time. At least I learned something: don’t rely too heavily on first impressions.

Authenticity is the quality of being real or true, according to the Cambridge dictionary. So, if you want to stay authentic, anytime you do or say something, ask yourself: is this the real me?

If you want to stand out and remain authentic, answer the following questions that could help you:

hand-click What are the qualities that people around me acknowledge me for?

hand-clickWhat strengths do I have versus others?

hand-clickHow can I benefit from this?

hand-clickHow can I maximize it?

hand-clickHow can this help me in my life, in my job, in the project that I am involved in, or the business development of the organization I am working in?

I leave you with this poem written by Charlie Chaplin when he was in his seventies. It is a beautiful expression of what means to be yourself.

As I Began To Love Myself

As I began to love myself
I found that anguish and emotional suffering
are only warning signs that I was living
against my own truth.
Today, I know, this is Authenticity.

As I began to love myself
I understood how much it can offend somebody
if I try to force my desires on this person,
even though I knew the time was not right
and the person was not ready for it,
and even though this person was me.
Today I call this Respect.

As I began to love myself
I stopped craving for a different life,
and I could see that everything that surrounded me
was inviting me to grow.
Today I call this Maturity.

As I began to love myself
I understood that at any circumstance,
I am in the right place at the right time,
and everything happens at the exactly right moment.
So I could be calm.
Today I call this Self-Confidence.

As I began to love myself
I quit stealing my own time,
and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.
Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness,
things I love to do and that make my heart cheer,
and I do them in my own way
and in my own rhythm.
Today I call this Simplicity.

As I began to love myself
I freed myself of anything
that is no good for my health –
food, people, things, situations,
and everything that drew me down and away from myself.
At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.
Today I know it is Love of Oneself.

As I began to love myself
I quit trying to always be right,
and ever since I was wrong less of the time.
Today I discovered that is Modesty.

As I began to love myself
I refused to go on living in the past
and worrying about the future.
Now, I only live for the moment,
where everything is happening.
Today I live each day, day by day,
and I call it Fulfillment.

As I began to love myself
I recognized that my mind can disturb me
and it can make me sick.
But as I connected it to my heart,
my mind became a valuable ally.
Today I call this connection Wisdom of the Heart.

We no longer need to fear arguments,
confrontations or any kind of problems
with ourselves or others.
Even stars collide, and out of their crashing, new worlds are born.
Today I know: This is Life!

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