Ep 328: Authenticity as Your New Competitive Advantage with Erin Hatzikostas

RV (00:07):
Hey brand builder, Rory Vaden here. Thank you so much for taking the time to check out this interview as always, it’s our honor to provide it to you for free and wanted to let you know there’s no big sales pitch or anything coming, uh, at the end. However, if you are someone who is looking to build and monetize your personal brand, we would love to talk to you and get to know you a little bit and hear about some of your dreams and visions and share with you a little bit about what we’re up to to see if we might be a fit. So if you’re interested in a free strategy call with someone from our team, we would love to hear from you. You can do that at brand builders, group.com/pod call brand builders, group.com/pod call. We hope to talk to you soon.
AJV (00:53):
Hey everyone. And welcome to another episode on the influential personal brand pod. This is AJ Vaden. I am one of your co-hosts here and I get the, uh, the honor and the privilege of getting to introduce you, uh, to a good friend of mine. Um, at Erin OSIS, you’re gonna get to learn all about her in just a few minutes and some really cool stuff that she’s got going on, and I will give her a formal introduction, but for all of you listening, uh, I want you to know why you need to stick around and listen to this episode. You know, we have had a mini guests on in the past that talk about research. Um, and today we’re gonna talk about not just research, but how research impacts you in your business right now today. Uh, we’re gonna be talking about the research on authenticity in the workplace.
AJV (01:45):
So to me it does not matter if you’re an employee, an employer, if you are so entrepreneur, entrepreneur, or anything in between, like this impacts you, right? We’ve heard it said before that, uh, data data is the real unique differentiator in the marketplace today. And I’m a big believer in that. I’m a big proponent in that it’s like data is the differentiator and Erin has gone out and done this amazing study on authenticity in the workplace. And I think that there’s some really interesting talk right now about the workplace and you know, what they’ve been calling the great resignation. Uh, and I don’t really know if that’s the right term, right? I don’t know if that’s the right term. I love what Ariana Huffington says. It’s not the great resignation is the great reevaluation. And I think looking at authenticity in the workplace and what does that even mean?
AJV (02:36):
And how does it, how does it impact our employees, our employers and the companies at large is a really important discussion to have. So again, it doesn’t matter if you are a staff of zero or a staff of 1000, this interview, this research, uh, this does pertain to you. So I hope you stick around, uh, and make it all the way to the end, because also Erin’s gonna give you a really cool link to download this data, to help you take that back to your everyday business. So without further ado, uh, I’ll give you just a quick highlight. Um, but Erin Hatzikostas is a former corporate CEO, turned professional pot stir in her own words. She is also the founder, uh, and CEO of be authentic, Inc. And as a bestselling author, she’s a TEDx speaker, she’s a podcast, a podcast host. And, uh, what she calls a, coachs a coach coach salted , that’s a tongue twister. Um, but she’s also the leader of the recent national research study, the impact of authenticity in the workplace. But I can also attest that she is a hilarious human being. Uh, she is an action taker. She is an amazing human being. She’s a mom, uh, she’s an entrepreneur, she’s all these amazing things, which is why I love her and why I invited her on the show. So Erin, welcome to the show.
EH (03:53):
Thank you so much. And like most people I have such a, I have such a girl crush on you, AJ. So it’s so jam out for a little bit, have you all to myself slash, you know, share you with thousands of people.
AJV (04:04):
Oh my gosh, I’m so excited to have this conversation. I really love having conversations with friends more than anything else, because I get to bring in like some of like the behind the scenes context of what makes you so awesome as a human being. And you don’t always get to do that when you have, you know, a quote unquote complete stranger on. Um, so it’s really always a treat when I get to, I have a friend on the show and, uh, talk about all the cool things you have going on, but then also just to help the audience, get to know the awesomeness that is, you know, these amazing people that we get to do life with. So I’m so excited. And so in an effort to help our audience get to know you just a little bit, can you give everyone a brief backstory of kinda how you got to where you are right from?
AJV (04:50):
You know, you’ve been a big corporate CEO and you’ve led teams of thousands of humans, and you’ve worked for really big corporations. And you’ve now been on the other side as a speaker and an entrepreneur and an author. Like we didn’t even have that in your bio. You’re the author of this awesome book. And you’ve got all these cool things going on, but those are like two pretty different lives. And so it’d be awesome to hear, like give us some context and some background of like this, you know, quote unquote, former life as this corporate CEO, why this shift and how did you end up here talking about authenticity in the workplace?
EH (05:27):
Oh, uh, I’d love to, and so first the first thing I have to say though, is, you know, quick story, my son, about six months ago, he was just like making a bagel in the kitchen and he is like, mom, do you know what a perfectionist is? And I was like, yeah. And he’s like, you’re an imperfection . And I was like, and I, and I tell you that one, because it is kind of what I do. I talk about authenticity and part of that’s being perfect. I also cringe when you start with accolades and like, because I teach these principles of authenticity, like I immediately have to tell you I was a total actuarial failure in my first career, et cetera, et cetera. So I just have to get that out of the way, because it’s, it’s how I operate. Um, but, but despite, yeah, so I started, um, at Aetna, which is a large healthcare health plan, um, now owned by CVS and sort of accidentally got there in the actuarial program, uh, spent three years taking actuarial exams, failed every single one of them.
EH (06:26):
Um, but the good news is it was a great company. It was a big company and, and much like a lot of your listeners, you know, I was able to sort of Bob and weave my way through some, some opportunities take on things I was highly unqualified to do. Um, but never once did I, you know, I have this career path, like I wanna be an executive or I wanna be a CEO. You know, I was small town girl, Northern Michigan, you know, got good grades, but didn’t know really much about, you know, running a company. Um, but, but I did find myself at one of the subsidiary companies that they had acquired and not found myself, I strategically went there and, um, was just lucky enough over the years, every time somebody would leave, they basically were like, look to their left and right.
EH (07:07):
And they’d be like, well, I guess we should give it to Erin. Um, and that happened all the way up till, you know, I took on the CEO position and, uh, I let a company, I was about a thousand people and we we’re kind of in the dumps, you know, financials had been flat for years. We were quite frankly, kind of the laughing stock of the company. It was a, it was an acquisition gone bad, a typical, like let’s bring in this great new sexy company and then give them, you know, no money and resources to do what they need to do to be successful. And, um, I took over in 2016 and I’m just really proud to say that in three years, uh, we took those flat earnings that we had been having and we tripled them and our employee employee engagement went up 12 percentage points.
EH (07:51):
Like we became kind of the darling actually of the parent company and all along the way as I was having success, I also would often think, I wonder what I’m gonna be found out. Hmm. And it, it wasn’t Asia. It, wasn’t your typical like imposter syndrome. Like I, I understood you kind of had to lean in a little further than you were comfortable. I understood the, you know, I, I, I felt like I had the intellectual chops. I had the relationships like, but it was more that I felt like I wasn’t sacrificing as much as my peers, you know, my, my other colleagues were traveling every week for, you know, client meetings. They were giving up vacations. They were, you know, I had one friend that moved her family like three times and like six years to sort of climb the ladder. And I thought, I don’t know how long my luck’s gonna run out with having this much success and not sacrificing as much as everybody else.
EH (08:45):
And, and so then, you know, I, I led the company for three years, decided I really was craving exponential growth that I couldn’t find there. And I didn’t think I would find it in the corporate world. And what happened was when I, when I announced my retirement, like 75% of the messages and conversations said the same thing they said, we’re gonna miss your authentic leadership. And I, it’s not that I was surprised like, Ooh, who me authentic, like it’s, but I hadn’t really been pinned with that badge before. And after all those messages, it was like, there was this moment where I was like, wait a minute. I’m not gonna be found out. I’ve been actually playing a different game than everybody else. And I started to realize that I had subconsciously, but pretty purposely used authenticities. And now what I actually have figured out how to teach, but I had used them to gain the best talent to, uh, negotiate deals, to stand out to the executives, you know, going to quarterly business reviews.
EH (09:50):
And everybody else was like giving the propaganda. And I was telling a story or I was telling them where we were, you know, pooping the bag and it really gained trust and St stood out. And so after stumbling my retirement, I went and did kind of something else, quote, unquote, started a software company, which I didn’t really build anything. But, um, and you know, I think this is really important. I had thought about doing the career and leadership space. I think this is actually really, really important for the audience. One of the buckets I considered was this career leadership space that I’m in, because I knew I had a lot to give and that I would do well, but I didn’t wanna do it. And here’s why, because in my head there were thousands of them and they were sort of a dime a dozen.
EH (10:32):
Right. And this is before I had heard of the concept of personal branding and doing, doing it differently. And so I actually avoided it until, you know, I started writing blogs. I would sit at hockey practice and I’m like, oh my God, I have so much to say. And I no longer have like lawyers won’t let me say stuff. And I was like puking out. Like I had, I remember having a word document, AJ and I, I never considered myself a writer. I was a math major, not a very good one, but a math major. I had 30, some pages of written blogs, just sitting up in like the metal benches at the hockey team. And what happened is I, two things happened, one, which I preach to people all the time. It’s like this lesson, I keep learning, but I also want other people to learn you shouldn’t not do something because you hate the way it was done before.
EH (11:21):
Hmm. Instead do it your own way. And so one, I was like, what do I hate about the career in leadership space? Well, it’s stuffy, it’s boring. It’s a bunch of HR people it’s blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then I also listened to a podcast. And it wasn’t you guys yet, which I can tell about then hearing you guys and why it mattered so much more. I, I heard a podcast. Um, do you know, you remember the guy that has a podcast called, like Youpreneur I think, or so, yeah. Yeah. I can’t remember his name. Nice guy, but he’s a little bit like much a British guy, but I somehow stumbled upon it. And Aja was like, oh my God, this is what I wanna do. Like, I didn’t ever realize that, right. This concept. And you guys say it now a lot, you know, coaches, consultants, speakers, and authors, that there was a mechanism that there was an industry.
EH (12:08):
You know, all I had seen were these career leadership that were doing it, the old fashioned way, like go out and sell things and they didn’t have a brand. Right. And they, they weren’t speaking. And, and so when I realized that one, there was what you guys teach that is, so me, I love to speak, I love to do like the big things. Um, I loved the concept of personal branding and that I had also this message that to me, and, and what you said at the beginning was so right. Like I speak mostly to corporations, but I’m telling you authenticity always wins. And I’m learning that as an entrepreneur, right? Like the same things I did successfully as a, you know, a corporate nine to five executive are working here. And when I finally realized too, that it was teachable and that it was, you know, authenticity, isn’t this permission, it’s actually a power. It’s like something that can help you. It’s not just like, I was gonna give people permission to have a better career. Um, when I combined those two, that, that that’s when everything ignited and I got started on, on my path.
AJV (13:09):
Oh, that’s so good. And that you said something in there it’s like, authenticity is not of permission. It’s a power. Um, and I love that. And I, I wanna go back to two things that you said that you kind of skimmed over, but it’s interesting because, uh, prior to our call today, I was in my EO forum meeting. And so I’m a part of the entrepreneurs organization here in Nashville. And for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, um, you get paired in like these little small group forums. So there’s a group of seven of us, I guess, eight of us, including me. And we meet every single month for, you know, three to four hours talking about our businesses, helping each other grow. Um, and it was really fascinating that a lot of the discussion that my EO forum has had a lot of it by me is, you know, trying to figure out like, why is there such this culture of hustle and sacrifice?
AJV (13:54):
Like, why is it that, you know, in America and probably in many places all over the world, but I live here so I can speak to this more honestly. And authentic authentically is the more you sacrifice. Somehow the more successful you are, right? The more you hustle and grind and have no personal life and no family life, like the more quote unquote successful you are. And I heard you say that like you, and then it’s like, and if you don’t, you feel guilty. Right. And it’s, uh, it’s interesting. It’s like, I think about myself. I’m about to go on a, a very 10 day, a very, like a very, uh, like a very intentional 10 day vacation with my kids and my husband. And like what I asked my EO group to hold me accountable to is no work. And at the same time, I know that the reason I’m asking for accountability is because that’s gonna be freaking hard for me, because if I’m not, I feel like there’s shame and guilt tied to it. It’s like, oh gosh, my employees are working. I should be. And it’s like, if I’m not working, like where’s my worth then, like, what if I’m not valuable to the organization in 10 days, God forbid. And so I would love to hear from you both on the corporate side, and now on the other side, looking at the corporate side, where does that come from? Why is it there and how do we eradicate it?
EH (15:05):
It’s addiction. Uh, you know, I think Shonda rhymes, if you’ve never seen her Ted talk, remember the, um, the year of yes. You know, she talks about, I
AJV (15:13):
Haven’t seen her Ted talk, but I love,
EH (15:14):
Oh my gosh.
AJV (15:17):
It OK.
EH (15:17):
Yeah. So she talks about the hum and it’s very illiterate if it’s a beautiful, I mean, Shonda RHS powerhouse. Right. But she talks about the hum and getting addicted to the hum and it’s the hum and the hum. Right. You get, and, and, um, I think it’s really an addiction. Um, and what I always tell people when I talk about authenticity and part of this is, you know, I’m not a very disciplined person, you know, don’t tell Rory, like, I’m not a take the stairs kind of person. I just, that’s not how, you know, I’m a seven on the Enneagram. I’m a creative, but what I’ve found is the nice part is that what, what we teach in authenticity and, and to, to get to your point about like, why are we like that? I always tell people, I don’t change people. I change their addiction.
EH (16:03):
And there’s a detox period. Right. And so for, for example, in your example, change of addiction would be okay, you’re feeling like, okay, this anxiety, like I should be doing more, my team is, is working and I’m not. And if you start to experiment with, um, for example, you know, authenticity, one of my principles is model no better place to, to use the model principle than to go on vacation and model what you want for your employees. Yep. So many leaders would be like, take your vacation, da, da, and then they’re like, hypocrites, they’ll go. And then they’ll work. And what do you think the employees, what message do they get? They don’t listen. They don’t listen to you. They, they watch you. They told. And so a new addiction might be, you take this 10 day, you break free and you start to just, I want you just to observe what you see from your team.
EH (16:55):
For example, somebody that normally doesn’t get to do something, cuz usually you handle it and they step up and do it. And you see like the pride in their face or somebody that follows in your footsteps and says, oh, I noticed you weren’t checking in. I also didn’t check in. I so needed. I didn’t realize how burnt out I was. And, and so now it, you know, instead of being addicted to that ha like, I want you to start to get addicted to this new thing, which is leadership , which is self care. Um, and the benefits that come with that, which, you know, I firmly believe eventually, and not long will be even more than if you were to grind it out.
AJV (17:33):
Hmm. That’s so good. Um, but yeah, I mean there’s so much, I totally agree. There’s an addiction to it. Um, and a really unhealthy one at that. Um, okay. And then the second thing, um, kind of leading into this, you said, uh, I’m learning that I can teach authenticity. So before we get to the study, which I am super intrigued about, and I think it is really interesting and compelling, uh, because I think it’s lacking. I think people struggle with this a lot for a lot of different reasons. So I want like, I want you to define authenticity to you.
EH (18:10):
Yeah. What
AJV (18:11):
Is authenticity?
EH (18:12):
Well, so the way I define it is it’s about exposing who you are when people least expect it.
AJV (18:18):
Hmm love.
EH (18:19):
And, and so what happened, you know, so I said, okay, I’m gonna go do this. I’m gonna go teach it. And then I was like, oh crap. Like, how do you teach something that’s so inherently personal and such, you know, sort of fluffy unicorn DDO. Like how, how can I teach that? Yeah. And, but, but I knew I’m like, wait, I didn’t walk into work. Like I would walk into if I went to your house for a pool party, right. Like I knew there was something more nuanced about me and, and about the people that I consider authentic as well. And actually the first spark was good. Old Google, good old Google. I like, what’s the root word? And the root word is authentic coast, a Greek word and authentic coast means to be genuine. But it also means to be original and authoritative. And so when I saw that, I was like, yes, like authenticity is this more nuanced definition?
EH (19:14):
So actually when I teach, what authenticity is that first thing I do actually is deprogram what? It’s not. So authenticity is not simply being yourself. Yeah. I know that might be depressing. I know that might take a little exorcism, but it is not simply, it’s not the same as being yourself. And it’s also not transparency. It’s not synonymous. People always ask me like, but Erin, is there ever a risk of being too authentic? And I’m like, no, but there’s a risk of being too transparent. They’re not the same word. They’re not the same word at all. And so what, what the most important thing I teach people too, is that authenticity done right in business, in work is actually not about you. Mm it’s. About creating connection, building trust, intrigue, by being, you know, exposing things of yourself, being more vulnerable, being more humbled, using the principles, telling stories, things that you do.
EH (20:13):
Not because it feels better for you, but because it feels better for the connection that you create with people. You know, for example, you know, my first principal, I teach humility, not as like some fluffy adjective, but like purposely use humility. Like I mentioned, like, I have to tell you, I was a complete failure in my first career. And the reason you do that is because what happens then? You’re like, oh, she’s just like me. Like I failed that, you know, chemistry class or, you know, or you also think like, okay, she did not need to tell me that. So I’m guessing she’s not hiding anything else. Like if she would just go and tell me that, you know, she’s spill stuff all over her shirt, you know, two minutes ago or whatever it is. And so if you can think about authenticity, not about you, but, but doing those things that kind of buck the norm that, uh, you know, show a little bit of who you are to benefit somebody else, the reality is it, what happens? It comes right back to you, right? So it’s, it’s not selflessness completely. But if you think first about how you do it for others, then the rewards come back to you almost immediately. Um, so that, that’s kind of how I define it. And then, you know, this, this company I work with called brand builders group taught me how to put some more definition and structure and framework around it, which I have as well.
AJV (21:21):
Well, you know, what’s interesting is, uh, hearing that definition and hearing that earlier, you said you even struggled for, from not maybe what most people would identify as imposter syndrome, but a form of imposter syndrome. And you and I have had those conversations before of you not wanting to feel like an imposter and you know, it’s it, it’s interesting because I feel like most people who self identify with imposter syndrome, it’s probably also much of it stems from being around a whole bunch of people who aren’t being authentic. We’re trying to live up, we’re trying to live up to the image. It’s something that is not real right. It’s like, I, I had to, I did this like a couple years ago. It’s like five years ago now maybe. But I went through my Instagram and I unfollowed every single person that made me feel bad about people.
AJV (22:15):
And not because they were doing anything was my own insecurities. Right. But it’s like, they didn’t do anything, but it was like, man, if I can tell that you’ve airbrushed your photos, it’s like, I’m trying to live up to something that I will never li be able to live up to because we’re human and no human looks like that. Right. That is an animated version of human reality. And I was like, my gosh, I’m like comparing myself to something that’s not actually real. Yeah. And that happens all the time. Right. Unintentionally accidentally or not. But it’s like, look at people’s, you know, picture perfect snapshots in a moment. But what’s missing is the real, crazy chaos that isn’t, that is life. And that, I think that’s what makes us feel like imposters is we look around and be like, everyone else has it together. I must not belong here.
EH (23:06):
Yep. And we all have this disease, this disease that thinks we are the only ones that want it. It’s so funny cuz I, you know, I do corporate workshops all the time. A lot of ’em with executives and, and uh, they’re sort of like, well, yeah, I want it. But I, you know, I, I did my town hall the normal way because I, I, I assumed everybody else wanted the normal structure and the da da, da, da. And um, you know, what I say is authenticity in business and work is sort of like, and you know, this you’re in the thick of this, you know, when you take the boys to a birthday party, one of those birthday parties where like they might do the bouncy house and then they, you know, they all all go do the pizza and then they do the cake. Right. And you’re all stand, you know, the parents are standing around the perimeter and they get done with the, you serving the kids, the cake who just like grab it and ask for another piece. And, and then they come around and they ask the parents, would you like a piece now? What do most parents say?
AJV (24:02):
Oh, no. Good. I’m good. Thank you.
EH (24:04):
What are most people think? Most parents thinking,
AJV (24:07):
Yeah. I ask some
EH (24:09):
I want a piece of the darn cake. And that’s what, that’s what authenticity is. Like everybody wants the cake. And as soon as you know, it’s, it’s funny, I just did a podcast interview with another brand builder, um, this week. And you know, I, I mentioned, it’s not a permission, it’s a power, meaning it’s not just this passive thing. It’s like a power to help you. But we had a great conversation and he really noticed that, oh, but it is a power for other people. Mm-hmm and that’s what it is. So when you take that cake or when you, you know, show your messy room on, you know, Instagram, or when, when you do something authentically you, it is, it’s a power. It’s a, it’s a permission actually for the other people who have been sitting there wanting the cake the whole time, but too afraid to ask. And the reality is we’re all living in this world and I have millions of stories of, you know, senior levels, big grumpy executives who, when authenticity was used, it unlocked it for them. Um, and, and yeah, all it takes is one of us, you know, I say authenticities and is contagious since we all want it. You just, if the more you do it, the more others will follow and we’ll all be in a better place.
AJV (25:17):
Oh my gosh,
EH (25:18):
That’s my kumbaya moment. Huh.
AJV (25:19):
Oh, but it’s so true. It’s true. I think we’re all in search and desire of a little bit more of that in our lives right now. And probably always, but I feel like there’s definitely an era. There’s an aura right around, at least in my circle of going, I need that. I want that. And I didn’t notice that five years ago, um, maybe it’s me. Right? Maybe it’s like, I’m just more in tune to it today than I was before. Cause it’s more important to me, but I do notice there’s this more trend of man. It’s like, you know, and I think this is a great transition to your study and what I, I don’t agree with that. There’s this great resignation I do agree with. There’s a great reevaluation. And I think a lot of that has to do with everyone, having a chance to step back and go, what am I doing and why am I doing it? And do I want to moving forward? Yeah. A lot of it has to do with who, not just what, and so I wanna know, like why did you go the research route? And then what did you find in this national research study when it comes to authenticity?
EH (26:23):
Yeah. So, you know, it went, the research were out for a few reasons. One, um, quite frankly, I always wanna be standing out and you know, I’m so glad I wrote my book. I love my book. People love my book. Everybody writes a book. Um, so part of of it was just strategic. Like not everybody does research, right. Let me do something that stands out. But I’d say just as much, if not more than that, you know, what I talk about is so impactful to people, but it, it can feel so much like fluffy unicorn voodoo, right. And, and, and nobody had really, you know, quantified it, a lot of the, you know, articles out there. somebody on my team. She’s like, oh my God, I just found an article. And they quoted a study from like 2005, you know? Um, there, there was really nothing like it out there.
EH (27:13):
And I had pieced together and, you know, in my keynotes and things, I’d pieced together, different studies, right. Line of sight towards this data showed this, this data showed this and therefore right. Authenticity actually will get you more money is essentially the, the story. Um, but nobody had done that. And um, yeah, I mean, I, I laugh because you know what I talk about now, I’m like, you know, for three years I’ve been obsessed with authenticity, but I’ve, you know, largely been making this stuff up and now I’m not, I’m no longer making it up. Like and our research findings even blew my mind in the correlation to some, you know, critical things like employer retention, trust, uh, and many other factors. So I’m so excited that it’s out there.
AJV (27:56):
Yeah. I think it’s really powerful. Like one of the things that I, I get kind of like to what you said, and it’s the same reason we did research right. On personal branding. It’s like, man, we think all of this, but is it right? Is it true? And I think a lot of it isn’t like, wouldn’t have mattered to us because it’s like, but we still believe is still what we believe, but it was also just really amazing to go. We’re not the only ones, but then to also be pleasantly surprised about where we were potentially wrong or different. Right. Maybe wrong isn’t the right word. But it was like, it helped shape our perspective even on what we did and going, yeah. Like I do see that alternative and it allowed us to go really deep and an area that wasn’t even in our purview before.
AJV (28:42):
It’s like, I love data. I, I love, I’m such a nerd. Like this is like such my thing. Like that’s probably what one thing that people don’t know about me is like, I’m a real nerd. Like I love data. I love spreadsheets. I love geeky things. Um, my husband always says, that’s why you love me. And I’m like, yes, that’s why I love you. I love nerds. Um, it’s like nerd better for me. Um, and so I wanna know it’s like, if you had to like pick out like what were like the two or three biggest moments, ahas, whatever it was like, what were some of the biggest things that came outta the study that you feel like, I don’t care who you are. You need to know this.
EH (29:17):
Yeah. I would put them in a couple categories. Um, the first is there are a couple where the magnitude of confirming our theory or our thesis was kind of blew our mind. Uh, and those, you know, those were a couple of them, you know, you talk about the great resignation, but let, let’s just call it talent retention, which when I do corporate workshops, I always start, especially with the executives, you know, what’s the number one issue you’re facing. Cause I want them to know we’re solving issues. We’re not there doing fluff and it’s retention, retention, acquisition, talent, talent, talent, you know, and what was interesting. So I’ll tell you what we found. So we asked, um, one question, simple question. How much is authenticity practiced in your organization? And on that question, we did a Likert scale. So you know, all the time, you know, 5, 5, 5 scale liker, um, scale, and then like 10 questions later, we simply asked them, will you, do you think you’ll be working for your employer two years from now?
EH (30:15):
And then we pieced together those two questions. And we found that the people that scored the top of the Likert scale, like it’s always practice authenticity. So they have authentic culture were 92% likely to still be at their employer two years ago. And it literally drew a line like this, like 84%, 72%, 60 some percent, and then not practice at all. It was 40%. So the correlation between an authentic company, culture and employee retention was, you know, just perfect and magnified. Another one that the magnitude was, it was crazy. We asked people, um, is your leader authentic? Yes or no? Just a simple question. Yes or no. And then again, like eight questions later we asked, um, if your leader were, were to leave the organization, would you follow them? And people that said yes to the first question that their leader was authentic were four times more likely to follow them.
EH (31:11):
If they went somewhere else, 400%. And we found that correlation with trust. We also asked, you know, about the authenticity, the authentic culture. And then we looked at a statement that said, um, do you agree with this? There’s a high level of trust in our organization. And we found those with the, you know, the highest authentic culture. It was like, it was also a four times magnitude of trust. Um, so we saw, we saw, you know, basically our thesis was blown away in terms of the numbers. And then on the, the other category, I would say the surprising things, right? The things that we sort of didn’t expect, a couple things really stood out. Um, one were around executives. Um, so many people, right. Have this myth. It’s like, yeah, I wanna do authenticity or I wanna authentic culture, but right. The guy, you know, those dudes at the top, the people, you know, the executives at the top, they’re not authentic.
EH (32:02):
And it was interesting when we asked, for example, that simple question, is your leader authentic or not? When we looked at the three different job types. So we, we basically said, are you an executive leader? Are you an, an executive manager or something like that, a non-executive manager or a non-manager. So those three categories and the people that said yes, the most that their manager was authentic were the executives. And why that’s so important is that the people at the top are actually, as they’re hanging out, they’re having their one-on-ones, they’re having their meetings. They’re super authentic, right. They have these great relationships, but then as they face out to the organization, whether it’s through town halls, you know, part of the devil is the corporate com team that makes all their words and makes them into buzzwords. And so then people have this perception, right?
EH (32:58):
Yeah. Cause they have their scripts written for them. They have their handlers, they, you know, that they, they might feel like, you know, they have to Polish up or people won’t have confidence in them. And the reality is the executives are, are seeing their, their own bosses as the most authentic in the company. So that was interesting. And another surprising one was, um, that I was really curious about a sense of top sensitive topic, which is around, um, you know, black and other people of color, you know, this question. Yeah. But can they be authentic, right? Like there’s this, you know, feeling that it’s harder for them, uh, or it’s not as, as inter or as easy. And actually our data found that it was pretty much flat and there were a few places where there was not much of a statistical difference. Um, but we found in almost all of the questions, like, do you feel you can be authentic at work?
EH (33:52):
How important is authenticity at work? Um, et cetera, et cetera. It was about the same. And then the, the last thing around diversity, we found, we asked a question, um, if you’re looking for a new job, which of these factors are most important and we gave them eight factors and the top two were pay benefits, of course, and then flexibility, uh, which makes a lot of sense. The next two were authentic culture and authentic leader. And then what’s most important is what was below those below authenticity, quite significantly was the company has values that I believe in which we talk all the time about, right. Especially like the millennials and gen Z, they wanna work for a company has the same. That was actually lower. Um, getting the experience I need to build my resume, you know, basically was below that. Um, and then diversity of the company was actually last. And what I say about that is it’s not that diversity doesn’t matter, but it’s a great point. That diversity is all for. Not like if you check all the boxes, right. And you have all the percentages and numbers, if people can’t be themselves
AJV (34:58):
That’s right.
EH (34:59):
And so, you know, really authenticity in the terms of diversity, it’s, it’s the Trump card. Uh, and so that was, that was pretty interesting to see as well.
AJV (35:06):
Yeah. I think that speaks a lot too. It’s like, are you checking the diversity, uh, button versus is this an authentic, real part of our culture? Right. And it’s like, you know, even as a woman, it’s like, am I on this board because I’m checking your female card or is it because you generally want me here? And it’s like, I question that all the time. It’s like, I don’t wanna be your checkbox. Thanks. But no, thanks. Mm-hmm , you know, and I think that’s true. And you know, it’s, I think one of the things that’s really amazing. So you said something that I, you know, I kind of jotted down that I, I think is really important. It’s why, or I’m gonna ask why first? Why do you think it is? People can be more authentic, potentially one on one, but then as we, you know, go out to present the larger group, it’s like, we put on this like professional facade and it’s like, okay, now I have to be this leader, executive manager, entrepreneur owner, where it’s like one on one, like now you’re just a human. And then all of a sudden you put on this like whole new persona, which isn’t authentic at all, but yet that’s how you present yourself to the masses. Like, did that come into play in any of this?
EH (36:13):
Yeah, I mean, well, so, you know, I would not in the research, but I, what I would say it’s because people have four decades and decades, watch people not take the cake
AJV (36:23):
EH (36:24):
At the birthday party. And they’ve been so programmed that nobody wants the cake, or it’s not cool that they take the cake. And, you know, we just emulate what we see in front of us. It’s the same thing our kids do. Right. They, they emulate what we do, same thing in business. Like I always joke, like some dude in 1965 was really successful being stuffy and like having a process and people started to replicate it. Right. And it just regenerated. And then, you know, 30, 40 years later we’re like, oh crap, maybe that wasn’t the right formula. Um, but it’s, it’s about emulation because, because I know this because part of the reason I was able to start my experiments and get addicted and have that different game, that different path is because I had a father that I watched every day, come home and tell stories.
EH (37:09):
He was a teacher. And then, and then he retired and sold real estate. And he would tell story after story, basically of how, how incredibly authentic he was as a teacher and the funny things he had to do with the kids and the way he would discipline through a totally different manner. And so I got to see right people, I saw somebody eating the cake and then I was also very lucky, one of my first bosses, um, that took a big, uh, risk on me. She was the leader of our international division and she also demonstrated this authenticity. And again, it wasn’t just a permission cuz I didn’t just see her do it, but I saw her results. I, I ran her strategic planning. I knew our numbers every year we were growing the business. And so I got to tie together both the permission to be like that, but also that it created success.
EH (37:56):
And that’s why I’m out doing what I’m doing and trying to find as many people, right. To plant the seed because it’s simply that we have to start seeing something different to emulate that is not only more relieving and more fun, but you also are like, holy crap, look at the results they got. And I think you’re starting to, I, I, you know, it’s so funny in the entrepreneurial to, you know, kind of go to the entrepreneurial side of the house, you know, I, listen, I consume tons of stuff. Right. And part of brand builders is I listen to podcast. And so often I’ll hear people go, oh like, oh, this is such an interesting trend that I see. And they don’t call it authentic. And I sort of laugh and I’m like, like it’s authenticity. That’s why it’s working. Right. It’s you know, and people call it different things, but you’re seeing it all the time in the entrepreneurial world.
EH (38:44):
You’re seeing it LinkedIn, a huge trend. You know, I just listened to an episode of him, the LinkedIn guy that’s part of NSA. And he was like, yeah, she’s like stock photos. And um, you know, curated basically CAMBA picks don’t do well. It’s the, it’s the natural pictures. I was like, authenticity, you know? So I’ll hear things and I’m like, authenticity. I’m like, it, it works. It’s just about being aware of it, doing that experiment, collecting your own data for data geek. Like you, it literally is like collect the data to be like, Hmm. They open that email. Hmm. They listen to me when they normally are like distracted. Hmm. We sold more of this when we did this and then going, huh? Maybe if I do more than that, it’ll it’ll get better results.
AJV (39:28):
Oh, this is so good. I could literally talk about this for like three hours because I do think it’s something that we all so desperately need. And to me it doesn’t matter if you, again, I said this earlier, a manager or an owner, an executive, it’s like an employee, a, you know, part-time direct sales person, a retail shop employee. It does not matter. It’s like this impacts all of us. Like no matter what your role is, no matter what you’re doing, a parent, a teacher, um, it doesn’t matter a friend, a spouse, like , this goes on and on. Like, this is not just for the workplace. This is just for, you know, the human place. Yeah. And I love this so much because I do think that the more this happens, the more it’s like the more. And I love what you said too. It’s not just about being you. It’s exposing who you are when people Le least expect it. And that does come up from a place of humility and vulnerability, but also power and courage and bravery. Those things are not separate of each other. They’re tied together. So if people wanna get this study, uh, where should they go? Where should they go to download this study?
EH (40:32):
Yeah, you can go to be authentic ink.com. It’s just the letter B authentic inc.com/slash research. That’s a month. so authentic. Inc. Go to the show notes. I’m sure it’ll be in there.
AJV (40:47):
Show notes, but B authentic inc.com/research. And yes, we will put it in the show notes. And if Aaron, if people wanna just connect with you, um, to connect with your more authentic self, uh, all over online, where should they connect with you?
EH (41:02):
Yeah. I mean, you can go to my website and just check out all the things, but I, where I’m most active is LinkedIn. Um, I’d love to connect on LinkedIn. I am the only Aaron Hatti in the world. So if you can spell it, you can find me.
AJV (41:14):
Wow. That’s so funny because I’ve been saying Erin Hopsy for oh, oh,
EH (41:19):
That’s actually, that’s actually even better. Hoy Costa. You’re giving it the Mediterranean flare. I’m giving it the American, like you wanna try to spell it?
AJV (41:28):
I was like, that is like, you got it. I was like, Rory always tells me that he was like, they like, I don’t know what you hear, but you don’t hear the real words you just make. He’s like make up like all the words to songs. It goes, these are not the words. And I’m like, you’re not, I dunno what you hear, but it’s not what it is. Um, thank you so much for coming on. I love this. Thank you for bringing this topic to the table and also bringing in a way of like, how do we use this to better communication, better. Our leadership just better our relationships, right? It’s just like the more that you can be authentic, right? It’s like it has this domino effect of positivity and impact no matter where you go. And yes, that will lead to bigger, better jobs and more pay and stronger relationships and all the things. And thank you for bringing it to the table, but also in a light of like, how do we take this and apply it and see it in a different way where it’s not like you do you boo, but it’s like, Hey, like there is power in this. This is how you do it. I love this. I love you. Y’all got go check out this study, go follow Erin, go connect with her on LinkedIn. And then, uh, make sure you come back here next, uh, time on the influential personal brand. We’ll see you later.