On Authenticity

On Authenticity

Phoenix Normand 14/05/2018 3


  1. not false or copied; genuine; real
  2. having an origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified
  3. representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified
  4. entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experience; reliable; trustworthy:

Show of hands... 

How many of you out there feel as if you’ve actually lost touch with who you are? You think you know what you like but it changes often. You like who you are as a person mostly, but you’re not quite happy with the fact that you’re not doing what makes you 100% happy.

And why do you think this is?

Real talk, it’s likely because you’re not being authentic. In my wandering 48 years on this planet the one thing that I’ve always found is that when I’m not being 100% authentic with myself and in my communications with others is when I suffer the most. Anytime I’m trying to be someone other than who I truly am I usually end up in trouble, either defending this mystery person or growing tired of the charade shortly after creating it. I blame much of this on social media, of course. But let’s be clear. It comes from within. Every move we make is a conscious choice. As much as we love to blame situations and other people for our misfortunes and bad decisions, a majority of our pain is created by the choices we’ve consciously made. 

Authenticity is finally making a comeback. And I’m tacking on a little personal accountability to that with hopes of creating a wave of conscious people really taking a step back, assessing their lives and motivations, and shedding all of the bullshit they’ve been adding layer-by-layer since telling and defending little white lies became an acceptable societal norm. 

Companies are beginning to discover that old school authenticity keeps customers coming back. When a customer feels respected enough to not be “sold” or pandered to, and that customer service actually does exist and, when implemented in a very human way, will typically create a customer for life. Especially because there’s such little authenticity in business or advertising anymore so customers seek out real, authentic experiences and companies to frequent. The prevailing marketing formula is “sizzle,” not truth. But, it appears, that’s changing and will hopefully become the norm again.

I’ve made the conscious decision to be 100% authentic with everyone I come into contact with. I’m not perfect at it yet, but I’m enjoying the process of becoming so. My authenticity is a bit more public than most thanks to an audience I’ve created from my LinkedIn articles and the MEGA University classes that I teach around the world. My message is simple: TELL THE TRUTH. In every aspect of your life. It’s not some sort of new-agey, BS life improvement exercise. It’s simply getting back to the real YOU. Saying what's on your mind without fear of someone's reaction or fearing some sort of reprisal. If you don't represent yourself 100% truthfully, whose job is it exactly if it's not yours?

I encounter people in all walks of life who are painfully inauthentic. They lie through their teeth in even the simplest interactions. They smile obligatorily when they really just want to rock their resting bitch face and finish their Diet Coke in peace. They say “yes” to things they know damned well they want no part of. They allow themselves to be condescended by their bosses because they don’t want to rock the boat or be perceived as difficult or not a team player. And they’re among the first to post duck lip selfies on Facebook when they get home (and now LinkedIn…ugh) as some sort of weird validation that, “Everything’s great!” Chile, please.

Sorry, kids. I no longer subscribe. I’ve gotten to a point in my life (and hopefully you have as well) where if you have the balls to ask my opinion about something then you better have the balls to take the unfiltered truth I dispense on the daily. I’m not here to make anyone feel badly or create drama or anything of the like. However, I’m also not here to blow sunshine up any asses when it’s clear that most people who ask these powderpuff questions of me lately really only want someone to cosign their ridiculousness. I'm not the one.

Some recent events have made me a bit more scarce on social media of late, especially LinkedIn. For some reason people have taken it upon themselves to judge me rather harshly and incorrectly solely based on what they read and the videos of me they see on LinkedIn. What cracks me up is that what you read and what you see on LinkedIn is all Phoenix Normand. 100%. My whole schtick is about "telling it like it is." So why would you then engage me for speaking and teaching gigs and want to change who I am to fit a construct that you know damned well I probably want nothing to do with because it’s antithetical to my message of unabashed authenticity. No amount of money or promise of future gigs or anything of the like is my motivation. Truth is my motivation. Plain as that. 

As a result, I’ve become a little disgusted with public, social media of all types. It’s so dominated with bullshit, bullshit people and inauthenticity that it’s become exasperating. My industry, Executive Assistant education, is one of the biggest bullshit purveyors of all. There’s maybe a handful of mavericks like me out there who are actually trying to help Executive Assistants become better people first and better professionals second. However, the majority of the EA Education experts are simply cheerleading, painting over the ugly wallpaper instead of taking the time and effort to yank it down, sand it smooth, prime it, and repaint it perfectly. The message is generic and copy+pasted event-to-event in every corner of the world. All under the guise of helping EAs become a “business partner” or a “chief of staff” or anything BUT an Assistant with no marked improvement in skills, education, project work completion, business acumen, etc. What a bunch of bollocks!

So I’ve decided to go clandestine. Once I finish this tour of live gigs, that's it. I'm no longer accepting teaching gigs or speaking gigs at large companies or events. My North Star is and has always been making Executive Assistants better by using what I've learned over the last 26 years in the seat. I only want to surround myself with real people, who are striving to be better personally while really wanting to be the very best professionals they can be. I have no interest in being a public figure or anyone's online darling especially if it’s at the expense of being 100% me. Unfiltered. Rough around the edges. A little in your face. But always 100. (Newsflash: I swear. A lot. And I like it. Because I've earned the right.)

So I’m moving my classes, information, articles, videos to a clandestine online platform that lets me. No filter. No anxiety around being presentable enough for potential clients. None of it! It’s a subscription-based platform that will soon become a true resource for my tribe to learn, connect, and grow rapidly in position. And "my tribe” are the people who seek the truth. They want it straight up…kinda like how the news used to be…so that they can take the information, formulate their own conclusions, usurp and apply what works for them and keep it moving. It's time to offer a better solution. One that's less about the image of the speaker, and more about offering education and information that's actually relevant, has an impact, and is available 24/7/365 to any Assistant in any corner of the world. That's my North Star now. Screw all this other BS that has proven ineffective for decades. I'm out.

Being authentic is only as difficult as you make it. Telling the truth without fear of being labeled “harsh” or “a dick” is something you shouldn’t fear at all. I will debate anyone to death who continues to believe and espouse that being completely honest and truthful is in any way “rude” or harmful to someone else. “Rude” is a perception. It's not based in fact. And rude is usually a misperception created by the person hearing the truth and not liking what they hear. #facts 

So what can you do to join this wave of truthtellers?

  1. Stop lying. With your words or your actions. If you're a social media whore acknowledge that one of the hardest things you're going to have to do is to not embellish the truth in your posts. Tell it like it is. If it's interesting and can stand alone, then you've succeeded. If you feel the need to add a little spice, then you've failed. And if you have to embellish, just shut up. Stay silent. Be an observer. Don't fall victim to the need to comment to feel relevant or agree to some BS or like something you totally don't.
  2. Tell the truth, cleanly. Question: When was the last time you answered a yes or noquestion with a simple yes or no? Nothing more. Think about it. This is a perfect example of inauthenticity. Likely 99% of our answers to the most basic questions are accompanied by some long-ass explanation filled with placations, half-truths, and bullshit instead of a simple yep or nope. Tell the truth kids. If someone asks you a question, um, answer the question. If it requires more explanation then go to town, but keep it 100...and, preferably, short, clean and factual.
  3. Stop worrying about what other people think about you. On judgment day, do you honestly think anyone is going to give a shit about you or your opinion on anything? People will be so busy trying to reconcile their own lives and poor choices that those of us who've mastered the truth will meet, gather, pop some corks and giggle at the bedlam taking place around us. Part of becoming authentic is reveling in and celebrating WHO YOU ARE. You've lived all of these years on this planet, learned and experienced so much. Sadly, everyone seems to be light on the lesson of celebrating our own uniqueness. Social media's intent is to make us all the same. The true warriors are the ones who march to their own drummer, speak in truths and absolutes, and are thoroughly unconcerned with how you perceive them. For they are true. And there is no opinion from another human being that can compare.

At some point enough becomes enough. I've heard enough lies, half truths and bullshit since this administration took office that I no longer care to subject myself to the circus. I neither appreciate nor accept being lied to, willfully. I don't surround myself with liars because my father was the biggest liar of all...so thanks for the training, Dad. I will not sit idly by, in my own life, and normalize lies, deceit, agendas, and half truths in order to conform to a construct that flies in the face of my beliefs. I would advise you do an audit of your own life and make sure that you are being 100% authentic with yourself, most importantly, and with others in your communication and actions. Life is short and unpredictable. Go out knowing that you left everything on the table. You told it like it is. You kept it 100. And you were respected by scores of people for always being that one person in their lives they knew they could get the 100% truth from. That's a legacy can get down with leaving. Not amazing selfies and an inauthentic image celebrating our inability to tell the truth.

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  • Linda Hedley

    Inspiring read

  • Peter Romeo

    Loved your post, thanks for sharing your thoughts

  • Kumar Mohit

    Brillant read !!

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Phoenix Normand

Society Expert

Phoenix is coaching and supporting American billionaires, CEOs and executive teams in tech, retail and banking for over 25 years. He also founded and created MEGA Assistant University, a revolutionary skills and mindset “boot camp” for top Executive and Personal Assistants who want to level up quickly and begin forging a mutually successful business partnership with their executives and teams. Phoenix holds a Bachelors of Arts in European Studies/Civilisation from Trinity College Dublin.

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