Authenticity, Blogs, & Spencer Pratt

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At this point in my life, I am a full-time writer. Authenticity and integrity are important to me, and I work hard to ensure that I’m writing helpful posts and tweets that are entertaining, helpful, and provocative. I often miss the mark, but I trust that my readers will give me the space and time needed to improve my skills and develop my voice.

So it was interesting when Guy Kawasaki‘s name was mentioned several times—both publicly and privately—during my recent trip to Google. Some attendees at the Social Recruiting Summit wondered if Guy is a good example of an authentic expert with a credible voice.

Someone privately asked, “Does he speak for something greater than himself? Or is he just a narcissistic spammer?”

I’m not sure if speaking about something greater than yourself is a mark of authenticity, but I get the point. It is tough enough to weed out the selfish assholes in your real life — but now you’re tasked with discerning personalities from blog posts, avatars, and tweets.

Personally, I think Guy Kawasaki is a nice guy. I have talked to him ZERO times and we have had ZERO interaction in real life, but I get a tremendous amount of traffic from Alltop. I think he genuinely cares about big ideas, social movements, and technologies. I believe he deeply cares about people.

I do sympathize with attendees at the Social Recruiting Summit who have a difficult time navigating through the world of self-appointed gurus and social media experts. Who’s the real deal? Who’s the Spencer Pratt of the new media world? It’s tough to figure out, and there is no magic formula for credibility on the internet.

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself if you’re concerned about following the advice of career gurus and business leaders on the internet.

  • Do you trust that the blogger is operating beyond his self-interest? If not, does that matter if you still learn something?
  • Does the blogger respond to your questions or care about you as part of his community? If not, are you visiting the site because the blogger’s posts fill other needs in your life?
  • Are you following the blogger because of his popularity or because he has a perspective that you can’t find anywhere else?

I want to read blogs and tweets from writers who are brave. I want someone to tell me a great story, take risks, and teach me something. I am willing to forgive narcissism if it comes from someone who is brilliant, generous with his time, and willing to accept his own flaws. I read newspaper columns, magazine articles, novels, and blogs that are written by people who are confident enough to take a stand but humble enough to listen to feedback, reflect, and question their own voices.

Guy Kawasaki seems like the real deal. He is not the Spencer Pratt of the social media world. Thank God.

That’s my perspective. What’s yours? What did I miss?

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