You Do You: Being Authentic Pays

Things are rapidly changing for all of us. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we find ourselves redefining how we work, exercise, shop, and socialize.  We are challenged to rediscover – or maybe learn for the first time – how to be productive and happy with less human interaction and more social distancing. My prediction is that the road will be bumpy. During this time, I encourage authenticity while adhering to the recommended guidelines. I hope, despite the uncertainty in our lives, we can take this time to re-focus and step back, to re-evaluate our routines, and make some needed tweaks. I hope, I am able to be more myself and you are able to be more yourself. As they say, “You do you.”

This go-to phrase means slightly different things for different folks but generally the term is used to encourage someone to be herself, make her own decisions, and behave authentically. When a friend or family member (usually my sister) says to me, “You do you,” I take her to mean this: Do what’s best for yourself, even if it’s different from what I -or others- might do. 

It takes emotional strength and appropriate psychological boundaries to say this to others and mean it! It takes maturity to recognize you can’t always know what’s best for others. Similarly, it takes self-confidence to remind yourself to act according to your own gut, without guilt or misgivings. Many of us were raised to believe that we should consider the needs and expectations of others when choosing a course of action. We may also believe that our friends, family members, and even colleagues will like us more if “we do them” – that is, if we morph our actions and respond in ways they would respond. Remarkably, new research debunks this misconception.

Recent Research:

Harvard Business Review’s February 2020 article (“It Pays to Be Yourself“) highlights research involving 379 working adults who served as participants in a study where they were asked to create a video for a job posting. The participants understood that their videos would be rated by a hiring expert and the participants with the highest scores would receive a financial reward. The participants were randomly assigned to one of three categories, with respective instructions:

Catering Group: This group was told to “Please position your statement for what you believe are the expectations or interests of person watching the video.”

Authenticity Group: This group was told to “Please be yourself. Be genuine with the person who will watch to the video.”

Control Group: This group was told to “Please remember that a person will watch this video to review applicants.”

Scores from these three groups showed that those in the Catering Group were the least likely of all three groups to be hired. In fact, the Authenticity Group had a 26% greater chance at being hired than those who catered to the rater.

Authenticity Wins

There are a few take-a-ways from this research that may impact you today, as COVID-19 restrictions are top of mind, and tomorrow, when we return to a more predictable work life.

  1. When creating new routines to keep yourself safe as well as sane, take time to consider which changes to your life feel like an improvement and which changes feel inauthentic or burdensome. Experts say that this unique time will shape how we live for years to come. What is the silver-lining new practice that could emerge for you?
  2. When selling, forget your inauthentic pitch and, instead, just be yourself. The anxiety produced by faking it during a sales situation is noticeable and can have a negative impact.
  3. When interviewing for a position, remember to be the real you. Instead of spending your preparation time wondering about what your interviewer wants to hear, consider your past successes and the situations in which you feel most confident. How might these successes be replicated?
  4. When interviewing others, start the interview off with a friendly reminder to the candidate to be authentic. This reminder will give the applicant the greatest chance of making a positive impression.

Catering to the needs or interests of others is an outdated strategy. As it turns out, “you do you” is solid advice. When you feel the pull to play to others’ expectations, remember: authenticity always wins.


Bring Sunshine, Not Clouds


At long last, it’s March. This month promises us days that require sunglasses, the warmth of spring, and the potential of bursting bulbs and buds on our bare trees. After a very typical gray Indianapolis winter, I crave bright and sunny skies, the warmth of the sun on my face, and the comfort of a sun-warmed car. In short, It improves my mood to be warm. But wait, there’s more. Not only does sunshine improve our mood, but it is also a necessity for growth of any kind.

Most of us have had the pleasure of working with or being friends with a person who energizes us, gives us the will to endure a tough day, and helps us recognize how we have helped others or improved a situation. These types of connections and positive interactions can bring a different kind of sunshine and warmth to our lives. The words and attention of these special people nurture our abilities and help us grow in ways that might not be possible without their encouragement. How can you bring your own brand of sunshine to any interaction? Notice what others do well. It’s as simple as that. 

Noticing when others perform a task with capability, kindness, or good-humor are ways to bring sunshine into anyone’s day. The added benefit is that bringing this sunshine into someone else’s life naturally deposits these positive rays into your own life.

For more about how to notice the strengths of others and how to build a team that focuses on strength instead of weakness, see FRESH Leadership: 5 Skills to Transform You and Your Team.

The JoyPowered Workplace Podcast – Tips for Leaders

A huge thank you to JoDee Curtis and Susan White for having me on their podcast. We touched on how I came up with the acronym FRESH (that I explain in greater detail in “FRESH Leadership: 5 Skills to Transform You and Your Team”) and also discuss few of the things I am always game to chat about:

  • how social media fuels our need for feedback,
  • why many managers lead by modeling their past boss, and
  • why I am happiest when I can order dinner for my best friends.

Please tune in!

The JoyPowered Podcast: Helping Your Managers Lead Today

Improve Internal Communications in 2020

One of the 2020 trends is improved internal communication. The news makes me wonder: is this an amazing trend or just a fantastic goal?

My gut tells me it’s a goal (not a reality) for many organizations, thus making it a “trend” . . . because improving internal communications is easier said than done, right?

We know that internal communication is the glue that holds organizations together. We also know that, individually and collectively, we have lost patience. We want our Internet to be faster, our download time to be quicker, and our office mates to respond instantaneously. Of course, all of these desires we have for speedy communications apply to learning news about our organization’s triumphs and tribulations. It is at this juncture – after a huge triumph or a scalding tribulation – that an organization of any size must consider: “How do we explain this? How do we celebrate/contemplate this occurrence?”

How can you positively impact internal communications TODAY (and build employee engagement at the same time?)

Let’s first consider the difference between how we communicate internally versus externally. The “rule of seven” is a well-known marketing principle, referring to the idea that prospective clients will need to come in contact with your organization seven times before they awaken to the idea that your organization is an option. While most organizations heed this advice for a customer, they are less apt to communicate as vigorously with their internal customers (e.g. their employees).

One of my clients, the head of a marketing and website organization, is an expert communicator . . . well, maybe an expert external communicator. When this leader sends out a newsletter every few months, I read them eagerly – they are interesting, humorous, and always contain a feel-good take-a-way for the reader. However, it took my insistent nudge to persuade this same leader to use his vast writing talents to update his staff of about 20 by sending a similarly well-written, informative, funny, and inspiring e-mail at the end of every week.

Rethinking internal communication in 2020 means that organizations need to “establish fast, interactive, and reliable channels to reach all employees.” A mobile app? A weekly newsletter? A stand-up meeting every Monday morning? When it comes to communication: more is more. The efforts made to communicate what’s new, to acknowledge and celebrate a team’s success, or to uncover the root cause of a less than perfect performance will be realized in increased trust, a better work environment, improved engagement . . . and ultimately a more profitable 2020.


To see the full article on 20 workplace trends in 2020 go to:

To learn more about engagement, trust, and communication with your team check out FRESH Leadership: 5 Skills to Transform You and Your Team 


Show Gratitude and Appreciation for the Strengths of Others

As we approach our nation’s day of thanks, our Thanksgiving Day holiday on November 28, it makes sense to think about the strengths of our friends, colleagues, and family members.

Why not try to unlock the fullness of and potential within every relationship by catching people doing what they do best? Appreciating the goodness in others – by looking for their unique qualities and their unusual gifts – creates an ideal relationship building environment.

As the quote above says, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. . . . It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

Wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with appreciation and gratitude.



Did You Miss Yesterday’s Podcast?

Two-thirds of American workers are not engaged at work – which is a serious problem for business, as employee engagement has a strong impact on overall company performance. I was a guest on this week’s episode of “Taking Care in Business” with Kathy Pedrotti Hays and Vicki Bohlsen. We discuss how a focus on strengths can build engagement as well as corporate social responsibility.

Take a listen to this week’s episode:

If you’d like to learn more, check out FRESH Leadership: 5 Skills to Transform You and Your Team.

Morales SkillUpBuildUp Podcast Part II – Grow or DIE!

So grateful to Kofi Darku of Morales Groups’ SkillUpBuildUp Podcast! Thank you to Kofi for having me back to talk about the lifelong challenge we have to grow! Growth can be hindered by limiting beliefs. What are your limiting beliefs? How could a limiting belief be impacting your life and negatively impacting your ability to grow?

These questions and more and touched in this podcast. Here’s the link if you want to take a listen:

To learn more about the ideas discussed here, check out my 2 books:

FRESH Leadership: 5 Skills to Transform You and Your Team 

Unstuck at Last: Using Your Strengths to Get What You Want 

Morales SkillUpBuildUp Podcast – a FRESH perspective

Thrilled to be a guest on Morales Groups’ SkillUpBuildUp Podcast! Thank you to Kofi for being such a fantastic host!

Kofi and I discuss the ways in which the workplace has changed in the last 25 years . . . as well as how leaders need to respond to those changes. Of course, we touch on some of the highlights of my newest book FRESH Leadership, but Kofi does a great job of taking me off the beaten path as well!

Here’s the link if you want to take a listen:


To learn more about FRESH Leadership: 5 Skills to Transform You and Your Team check out this link.

Be Curious

Curiosity killed the cat, right? Wrong. Curiosity builds strong leaders and teams. Below are a handful of great ways  to remain curious about the world and reasons why curiosity helps you and those around you.

Ways to Remain Curious

  • Keep an open mind when speaking with others or learning new information.
  • Travel and experience different cultures within your own country and abroad.
  • Ask questions of others and be introspective.
  • Look for differences and similarities in all people and places.
  • Read as much as possible and mix your genre up – fiction, non-fiction, history, mystery, and anything else that spurs your interest.

Why Is Curiosity Important?

  1. Curiosity fuels our imagination. When we are curious, we are more likely to be creative at work and open to innovation.
  2. Curiosity improves relationships. Asking questions of others spurs connection and insight.
  3. Curiosity spurs self-knowledge. Thinking about why we think the way we do can help us understand ourselves as well as possible biases and blind spots.
  4. Curiosity prevents “know-it-all” arrogance. When we recognize there is always more to learn, we are humbled by our ignorance.
  5. Curiosity keeps us young. Curiosity about the others, ourselves, and our world inspires the wide-eyed wonder that we had as children.

Good luck on your journey to stay curious. Undoubtedly, your rekindled curiosity will move you forward.

For more about how curiosity can improve your and your team, see Sarah Robinson’s new book  FRESH Leadership: 5 Skills to Transform You and Your Team. 




Do You Have a BF at Work?

Saturday, June 8, 2019 is National Best Friend Day! Tomorrow I’ll be talking on WLIP Radio with Frank and Kim Carmicheal about how having a best friend at work can not only help your overall health but can also increase your engagement in the workplace.

Please tune into our live discussion at 2:30 p.m. (EST) at