A friend, who is a restauranteur, once joked – “If a restaurant brands itself as “authentic x cuisine,” it is probably not authentic.” Like a lot of good humor, there is some truth to it.

Most companies, regardless of size, describe themselves as entrepreneurial, transparent and all about work-life balance. Many resumes use words like “self starters” and “lifelong learners.”

This is similar to the authentic cuisine problem. It makes sense that we throw these words out in the hopes of influencing people who’re searching for folks like us. But, how long before we’re found out?

A crazy idea – stick to simple words that you know to be true. In the long run, they do better than some aspirational marketing strategy that’s just not real. As a bonus, you’ll also learn to see things as they are instead of how you’d like them to be.

We need to be able to understand reality before we’re able to influence it.

“You may not like us..and that’s okay. “

Every great brand takes a stand for what it believes in. When it does that, it says – “You may not like us.. and that’s okay.” Apple and Harley Davidson aren’t mass market products but they sure are authentic. There is a certain consistent beauty present across their products that comes from that authenticity.

It isn’t too different for us as individuals. When we stand for what we believe in, we also say “You may not like me.. and that’s okay.”

Until we do that, it is impossible to be authentic.

And, without authenticity, it is impossible to be happy.