News Flash: You Can’t Fake Being Authentic

A lot is being said and written about being authentic these days because so many people aren’t.Negatives Positives Computer Keys Showing Plus And Minus Alternatives Analysis And Decisions Think about a police chief who fudges his department’s response to a crisis. Or, government and corporate leaders that promise one thing and then do another.

What is Authenticity?

Authenticity means being real or genuine, and telling the truth. You can’t tell someone you’re being authentic. You have to demonstrate it by your behavior. You have to be who you say you are.

Employees value a CEO who is honest and not afraid to open himself up and show some emotion. We coached a senior partner of a law firm for several years. One day he was asked to speak to the partnership about what the firm meant to him.

When talking about the firm in rehearsal, he was overcome with emotion and had difficulty getting the words out. He kept practicing because we knew that once he was able to manage his emotions, he could hold his own on stage.

On the day of the meeting, Jim got through his remarks with a catch or two in his voice and just a few tears in his eyes. His ability to show emotion may have surprised some of the partners, but they were very touched by his authenticity and his love of the firm.

A few years later his peers elected him the managing partner. Jim had built a level of trust by his openness and authenticity. He was a leader they wanted to follow.

You can’t be a good speaker by wrapping yourself in bubble wrap. You can’t be a good leader by withholding your feelings.

Mingling With Employees

When your name is on the door, you can never be just “one of the guys.” Counterfeit Authentic MagnifiedIt’s a delicate balance between being aloof and developing a genuine rapport with employees.

Bill Hewlett and David Packard, the founders of Hewlett Packard, practiced management by walking around, a concept popularized in the blockbuster book In Search of Excellence. This means making spontaneous visits to employees to learn first hand what’s really going in the company and getting valuable feedback from employees. These visits are a great morale booster.

But you can’t just drop into the company cafeteria once a year and pretend that you’re interested in your employees. That’s just going through the motions. It’s not authentic.

Good leaders meet with their employees regularly. One CEO we work with invites a different group of employees to dine with him in the cafeteria every other week. He learns more than he would by sitting in his office and it demonstrates his genuine commitment.

The founder and now retired CEO of Costco, Jim Sinegal, was labeled a “retailing genius” in a CNBC special about the retailer (below). A shirtsleeves leader, he spent most of his time on the road visiting his warehouse stores. He wanted to know from store managers what was working and what wasn’t. Sinegal could then apply what he learned to the entire network.

Everyone from the newsstand vendor to regular employees knew the late Allan “Ace” Greenberg, chairman of Bear Stearns in the 1990s, who retired long before the firm went under in the financial meltdown.

He was quite the character and much to everyone’s surprise enjoyed his training sessions in preparation for the firm’s IPO. One day, Ace invited me to sit next to him, on what was referred to as his throne, overlooking the trading floor. He said, “Come on over and sit down, Joyce,” and then proceeded to call new employees.

Welcome to Bear Stearns. We’re thrilled to have you as part of the team and I know you’ll do a great job. Here’s my phone number. Use it! If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up but let me know about it immediately – and don’t make the same mistake twice.”

That was being authentic! Ace never wore a jacket at work, his shirt sleeves were always rolled up, and he knew everyone in the firm by name.

Authenticity is engrained in our DNA. If you’re not being authentic your inner voice will tell you. If you’re a speaker, your audience will sense it in your demeanor.

If you’re a PR person talking to the media, you will be found out if you’re not being authentic with the news about your company. The reporter will go to another source in your company, or to a competitor, or search the web.

It pays dividends to be authentic. Authenticity is more valuable than currency, because you can never go broke no matter how much you spend.

Don’t Bother With Apologies If You’re Always Late or Longwinded

Some people are always late. Business woman showing the time on her wrist watch.They usually offer an excuse like “I missed the train” or “I was stuck on a phone call with a friend.” But after a while these excuses grow old. They could have made more time to get to the station or called the friend back later.

Observe the Guidelines

It’s not only being late for meetings, but includes speakers ignoring time guidelines. We were reminded of this when former Yankees manager Joe Torres was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. …Read more…

#MeToo #TimesUp #5050by2020 #WhatsUpNext #WomensHistoryMonth

Will Women’s History Month (March) 2018 once again be detached from the present? Or, will it recognize that we live in a country that feels deeply divided – by geography, race, class, religion, media, political worldview – and help solidify a Fourth Wave of Feminism?

The intention of the #MeToo hashtag was to empower women through empathy, especially young, vulnerable women, according to creator Tarana Burke. After millions of people shared their own #MeToo stories, #TimesUp shifted and expanded the purpose from being a movement exposing the prevalence of sexual violence against individuals to one with broader implications and potential political impact.

Is This the Fourth Wave Feminism?

“Download This Chapter” from Women of Wisdom — PDF

Feminism is the one-word simplification of the two words “Women’s Movement.” The First Wave of feminism largely dealt with the station of White women involved in suffrage and political equality in the 19th century and early 20th century.

Second Wave feminism began in the 1960s with protests against the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City and continued into the ‘90s focusing on guaranteeing social equality regardless of sex.

“Particular Passions: Talks with Women Who Shaped Our Times: Women of Wisdom” by Lynn Gilbert and Gaylen Moore, is an absorbing collection of portraits  and edited transcripts of 42 iconic women from the Second Wave including Billie Jean King, who is particularly close to our hearts.

As portrayed in the 2017 film, “The Battle of the Sexes”, Billie Jean was a driving force behind the Virginia Slims tennis series because she wanted to end inequality of pay between male and women on the courts.

Virgina Slims Media Training

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We had the privilege of working next to Billie Jean King in media training the Original 9 players and the many that followed into what evolved into the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). As the number of players grew in the Slims series, she frequently joined our training sessions to emphasize that a player’s role was as important in developing the women’s sport off the court as on.

At the time of her match with Bobby Riggs Billie Jean said, “To beat a fifty-nine-year-old guy was no thrill. The thrill was exposing a lot of new people to tennis. The most important thing was that women liked themselves better that day.”

“I walked into the offices of the Philadelphia Bulletin a few weeks later and all the secretaries stood up and clapped. They just went berserk. The editor said, ‘You have no idea what you did. The day after you played Bobby Riggs, all of these women asked for a raise,’” Billie Jean recalled in Particular Passions.

Women of Wisdom

Photographer/Author Lynn Gilbert says “when I photographed the women for the book, including Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and Barbara Walters, it was the height of the Second Women’s movement. Billie Jean King, was one of the most outspoken supporters of gender equality. She not only brought about change on the tennis court, but in all sports. These changes filtered into in the workplace, not just in America, but around the world.”

“We are at a moment in time, where the ground work for Women’s Rights is coming to fruition. Women want equality to men written into the constitution. Who knew that it doesn’t exist under the law? I had no idea and neither did my friends,” she added.

Lynn Gilbert’s portraits of Billie Jean and Barbara Walters are part of the permanent collection of Washington’s National Portrait Gallery. Other portraits in her book include Julia Child, Betty Friedan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg,  Louise Nevelson, and Gloria Steinem. These are being featured on 21 New York City bus kiosks during Women’s History Month.

Historians say the Third Wave of feminism began in the early 1990s was a response to the perceived failures of the Second Wave and its emphasis on the experiences of upper middle-class white women. Will Women’s History Month 2018 blend the past with #MeToo, #TimesUp, and #5050by2020 to serve as a catalyst for the Fourth Wave as #WhatsUpNext?

Don’t Eat the Microphone When Delivering a Presentation

Business conferenceYou slaved over preparing your talk, practiced hard, and no one in the audience heard you.

Sometimes it’s the simple things that will trip you up when you’re delivering a speech or presentation, like not using a microphone.

Recently, a board member of Lincoln Center was moderating a panel in a very noisy venue and he began by stating, “I can speak loudly so I won’t use the microphone.” A chorus of “No’s” greeted his remark! He was lucky because …Read more…