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  • Writer's pictureAlexis Gladstone

Authenticity and Professionalism

What does it mean to be authentic? To me, it’s about being yourself and being genuine. That’s sometimes easier said than done.

I recently had a photo shoot because I wanted updated profile pictures. I was able to bring a variety of outfits to wear. As I went through my closet, a question kept popping up, “who do I want to be in these photos?” I could tell I was stuck in the preconceived idea from, say, 20+ years ago that I needed to be “professional.” But what does that really mean in today's business world? Is it a photo like this?

Early in my career, I joked with my mother that I had two personas and thus, two wardrobes; my work was made up of suits (only skirts), blouses, pantyhose, and pumps. And my real clothes that showed my true sense of self and style. Pants? Yes! Boots of all colors? Yes!

Over the years, as business dress codes have evolved, the line between my business and leisure wardrobe has blurred. I’ve realized this has also allowed me to feel more authentic in how I show up and interact with clients and colleagues. For many of us, our clothes, accessories, hairstyle, or other things are important in feeling confident and empowered. Minimizing the restrictions we put on people with dress codes can do wonders for their engagement.

Back to the photo shoot. As the fantastic photographer had me pose and she snapped photos, I sometimes felt strange. I questioned whether the way she had me stand or place my hands was professional enough. When I saw the results, I realized she was right. She captured the professional me, the cracking-a-joke-laughing me, the fun-loving me, the authentic me.

Professional Me Laughing Me Fun-Loving Me

We are complex individuals and have many sides to us. Allowing people to be genuine and authentic is what we owe them and the world. Doing that will allow them and your business to thrive.

Photo Credit: Julie Kaplan Photography

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