Authenticity is saying what one believes and then acting in a manner that is consistent and oriented to the stated belief.  Banksy’s residency in New York has taken on social and moral issues that are too sacred to discuss publicly.  His art will fade from the walls and temporary exhibition spaces, but the narrative he has encouraged will last far longer.
What is the narrative that takes place when the audience leaves the theater after viewing your masterpiece?

How Would You Like Me to Apologize?


The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure continues to look for ways to steady its reputation.  They recently began polling individuals on the best course of action the organization could take to make an apology.  One thing we know about authenticity is that is must match what one believes.  If one’s actions are inconsistent from their stated purpose then they lack trust, loyalty, and authenticity.  If we are saying, ‘I am sorry,’ because somebody else believes we should then the outcome will most likely worsen the problem instead of mend the damage.  In many ways the original decision to defund Planned Parenthood exposed confusion at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.  There was an immediate opportunity to reconfirm the cause’s purpose with everyone who was closely connected and then work outwards with core advocates to apologize.  Instead, the foundation seems to be trying a couple different plays from random pages in the crisis management playbook.

What would you recommend as the next step?

Authenticity By Lobbyist

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American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, and American Heart Association defeated a bill that promoted their collective core values.  They lobbied against what they teach.  Being able to promote their self-interest appeared more important that the health of those they are entrusted to serve.  Trust, authenticity, and organizational purpose are lost when belief and action do not intersect.


Could you please be more authentic right this moment?  Turn up your authenticity from a 5 to a 10.  Really stretch yourself, you can do it, right?

Turns out that faking authenticity is not possible.  You can only be authentic by stating what you believe and then take actions that are consistent and mirror your belief.  That is why we can easily understand where authentic people stand.  We may not believe what they believe but we can see what they stand for. 

It does not take a huge capital investment to create authenticity.  However it does take consistency and commitment.


As a fan of professional cycling I have had to recalibrate my enthusiasm of the sport.  Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) have been the bane of the sport’s recent history.  I now watch the Tour de France or Giro d’Italia with the same skepticism that I might watch daytime soap operas or professional wrestling.  Riders suddenly achieve spectacular results going from middle of the peleton to front of the field in single months.

If I knew the performances where authentic I could allow my passion for the sport to roll unhindered but I have learned to guard against the next scandal.  

How do you ensure your audience is experience an authentic result?  Can they trust your cause?  Being authentic is one of the most highly sought values and increasingly is part of an enterprise’s competitive advantage. 


A characteristic that donors and supporters rank highest when considering contributing or joining a social causes is ‘authenticity‘. Individuals want to invest in the original, the trustworthy edition, the organization committed to meeting the needs of the cause with values that match their own. All of this sounds basic. But, how many enterprises deviate from being authentic by taking some of the following actions?

  • Adopting strategic plans that are full of unrealistic goals and lofty language
  • Creating a culture that makes patrons uneasy when they engage with the organization
  • Programs that are not consistent with the organization’s mission
  • Hiring an Executive Director or key personnel that do not embody the organization’s values
  • Accepting donations/grants from individuals or foundations that represent values that conflict with the nonprofit
  • Building a board with members who do not appear committed to the organization’s strengths
  • Launch a branding effort that looks nothing like the organization everyone has come to know

Would you prefer to visit the Statue of Liberty in Las Vegas or New York? Do you prefer to view the Declaration of Independence housed in the Archive Building in Washington, DC or a framed version hanging in your City Hall? Is your preference to meet your hero in person or take a picture with their facsimile at the wax museum? In which of these experiences would you be willing to invest more of your resources?

How do you remain authentic as an organization? Can you define it? Have you asked your supporters? How is it represented daily in your organization’s decision-making?