You Don’t Have to Fake it to Make it!

As members of the Ingenuity network will know, one of our key aims is to make University of Nottingham research accessible to the local business community. Our latest breakfast event welcomed Debbie Clarke of Debbiedooodah and Dr Isobel O’Neil, Assistant Professor in Entrepreneurship & Innovation to share their thoughts and research on how to be authentic in the business world.

Debbie kicked the morning off by sharing her personal story on how she has become more authentic over the years by opening up with people and being herself. She commented that although we talk about ‘B2B’, actually we are all just human beings wanting to connect with other human beings; being ourselves is the best thing we can be as it lets people in and builds stronger relationships.

Debbie explained that in her early days as a business owner, she did have to push herself to step out of her comfort zone and that ‘faking it until you make it’ can sometimes help with this, but this should never come at the expense of your sense of self. If you ‘fake it’ to the extent that you don’t recognise yourself anymore, that can be damaging to your mental health and overall sense of wellbeing. Debbie described the need to take calculated risks and those risks being like jump leads for your mind to extend your comfort zone and boundaries.

Debbie left us with 4 key points that she wanted the audience to take away;

  • Be real, be authentic.
  • Stop worrying about the stereotype of what you think a business owner should be.
  • Healthy bluffing can go a long way!
  • Don’t bluff so far that it might alter your mental health and affect your beliefs.

Dr Isobel O’Neil then took to the floor to share her research into authenticity. Isobel started by explaining the definition of authenticity. There’s authenticity on an individual level: not separating who you are in private and in public. Then there’s the organisational level definition: does ‘it’ perform in the way we expect, is it genuine?

‘Why do we want authenticity?’, Isobel asked us. Being authentic has many benefits, she argued. There is a real risk of self-alienation if you are working in a corporate role for too long, as you can become disconnected with yourself whilst trying to conform to perceived stereotypes. Authenticity allows health and happiness at work, gives us a sense of purpose, stronger working relationships and avoids that self-alienation.

Isobel commented that for the current working generation, we have to look within to find our own paths, to determine our fate; we are not prescribed a vocation in the same way that some previous generations were, who were simply expected to follow in the footsteps of their parents. She outlined that in order to find your path and be authentic in doing so, you need to explore your values and know your ‘why?’.

Isobel left the audience with a couple of exercises to evaluate those values from a new ‘My Business My Way’ toolkit, developed in partnership with Debbie and other collaborators, which can be found here.

Delegates praised the session for ‘prompting me to think about my why’ and ‘giving us reassurance that it is okay to be ourselves!’.

Our next breakfast event will take place on Tuesday 30th April 2019 and will be on the theme of ‘3D Printing – Tool or Toy?’ with Dr Martin Baumers. Don’t miss out, sign up here!