“The more authentic you become, particularly regarding personal experience and even self doubts, the more people can relate to you and feel safe to express themselves.” – Stephen Covey
The Cluetrain Manifesto is universally praised as “the way” when it comes to online marketing, and I don’t disagree. Here are the first couple of theses:
- Markets are conversations.
- Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.
- Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
- Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.
- People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.
- The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.
- Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.
- In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way.
- These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.
I think sounding human is about being authentic. But what I frequently wonder is “Do people know how to be authentic anymore?” Can I say synergy and be authentic? Seth Goldstein recently posted on how Josh Kopelman was telling him to post the funny stuff.
This is essentially a critique of his authenticity in blogging. The real Seth is funny. The blog Seth is an almost inpenetrable writer opining on automata. The Stephen Covey quote above resonated with me because I think being authentic is hard. It usually starts with acknowledging imperfection. After all, perfect is for robots.
I do want to make one powerful point here: I love the posts about mistakes we make. When Fred Wilson posts about the music he loves, usually it does not affect how I think about him. When he posts about tough decisions, I love it.
Sharing tough times among people builds a bond. It’s not going through them together, but I think even living them vicariously builds bonds. Everybody says that you learn from mistakes. That is why mistakes are a naturally interesting area to explore.