On this day, I claim my own independence.
It is a day of new beginnings for me, a day in which I vow to fully BE the change I want to see in the world.
No more self-judgment. No more self-imposed limits. No more “fake it till you make it”. No more living any other person’s life. No more apologies. No more fear.
By living and sharing here my truth with authenticity I want to inspire others to liberate themselves from the “should’s” and “shouldn’ts” that stand in the way of realizing our true purpose.
So let's back up a moment.
How was it that I came to sit on this rock on a babbling brook this morning with my true soul mate, feeling a depth of love I have never known in my (yes, long) life, and finally, finally, knowing why I’m here, what every experience and trial has meant, and what I’m here to do now.
In my life I have had many successes – as an entrepreneur, TV anchor and journalist – and just as many painful failures, deep personal wounds and betrayals, and too many of those indecisive moments when I found excuses to hold back, procrastinate, and feel sorry for myself.
Nothing tests you more than the rigors of entrepreneurship. Not just launching a business selling something you already know people buy and need, but there are few things that could be harder than trying to innovate and build something ahead of its time, something you need to create your own market for. There are so many ways to “fail” (my word for learn!) in any endeavor, no matter the startup's “degree of difficulty”, some fail moments ingeniously creative and others beyond our own control.
Truthful expression and authenticity have been my life's highest values and mission.
It's what drove me to be a journalist, to expose hypocrisies as an investigative reporter. It’s what drove my to empower citizens to get politicians off their prepared scripts with the Ask Your Lawmaker widget I created and grew to 3 million users in 2008. It’s why I created an iPhone app in 2010 called NewsiT that aimed to score the veracity of crowd-sourced content. It's why my current business Verifeed set out to understand people’s true needs, motivations and tastes from “deep listening” to their social conversations so that companies could more authentically connect with their customers.
I'll be honest Verifeed has struggled. And Verifeed has tested me.
Bootstrapped without sufficient capital, and competing with folks with $100m+ VC rounds, it was a Sisyphean task. You know, the proverbial “boulder up a mountain” thankless kind of thing.
And yet it led me here, on Independence Day, to a deep gratitude as my values and my purpose as an independent thinker and rabble rousing maverick with big ideas became clear.
There was the day, about a year and a half ago, when I first noticed in the Verifeed social intelligence data that brands and businesses that spoke with authenticity in their social media postings were outperforming their rivals by any metric – traffic, conversions, revenue, earnings, and even company valuation.
The “aha!” moment came at a Maverick1000 business event in Buenos Aires in December 2015 when I scribbled on the back of a napkin (seriously!), “there is a return on authenticity” and drew the first mockup of the ROA™ score.
Since then I've been working hard to build ROA as an app, and it’s not easy to measure authenticity of social communication with algorithms. But hell, I've cracked it… and I'm excited about where that's going to go as we set about building a mobile app for leaders and “inspirers” like you to utilize to grow your own thought leadership and impact.
But I digress.
I realized I could hardly launch the “barometer of authenticity” on the world without being fully authentic myself and in full alignment with my values.
I also thought it would be wrong not to share with you my “big why” – what I understand authenticity to be, why it is so important we all embrace it, why living authentically allows us the independence and freedom we crave and celebrate today with burgers, corn, beer and fireworks.
Today I am giving myself permission to tell it how I see it. And not give a shit or any fucks about what anyone thinks.
Permission not to judge myself, and permission to ignore the judgment of others… and license to finally share all I know and have learned trying to “make it real” on my life's journey.
Lately I have been thinking about all the times and all the ways my “monkey mind” has talked me out of pursuing what’s truly in my heart. All the compromises made in the name “doing what's right”, “fitting in”, and heeding the usually well-meaning advice of friends, relatives and team members. All the poor choices made following values (known and unknown) that weren't even mine! All the times and all the ways I've been who I thought I “should” be or had to be.
At the root of all of this is fear. And no shit, because what do we all fear most?
I'm going to wager on social ostracism.
Yes, we all want to belong.
Yes, we are so social and connected we can only truly see ourselves through the mirror of how others see us.
That’s not anything I can change, nor would I want to. But it's important to be conscious of to whom you are giving the power of judgment and whether their likely well-meaning interests are also in your interest.
Is it worth stressing out as I did as a mother of two babies with a new business that my house didn’t look perfect? Is it worth sticking with an abusive marriage as I did for many years because of a misplaced “value” of loyalty and not wanting to repeat the history of my parents' ill-fated marriage? Is it worth running a business you don’t truly love any more?
Honestly, is it really worth being anyone other than your true self?
Deathbed confessions reveal a lot. Study after study reveals that elderly people asked to recount their regrets in life say their only regret was that they did not go “all in” with the life they truly wanted to lead.
So I say, let's get going! No time to waste.
My mission is to go all in on authenticity and help you do the same. I can’t wait to share my epiphanies, radical transparencies, blocks and leaps … with you as we take this journey together.