BEING AUTHENTIC

I’m a millennial. But unlike most of my generation (as we’ve been labelled) I don’t like to share my personal stories on social media. Perhaps it’s because I’m an introvert? I believe in talking less and doing more. I’m also tentative to share personal stories because they might cause someone harm. After all, most stories have a villain.

This point of view comes with a challenge: If you’re not sharing your personal story, people think you’re not being authentic. In this context, being authentic is interpreted as speaking your mind and sharing your beliefs or personal story, not as being original and unique.

So, I’m going to be authentic by being inauthentic. This is my story.

After obtaining my BComm LLB degree at Stellenbosch University and gaining practical experience, I moved to Germany to complete a Masters at Bucerius Law School in Hamburg. My field of studies focussed on Strategic Management and Leadership and Corporate Governance. I wrote my thesis on “Stimulating African economies by synergising authentic design with ethical innovation”.

When I returned from abroad, I completed a yoga teacher training through YogaLife. This helped me gain more experience in the practice of mindfulness. I also attended workshops of Dr Etienne van der Walt, the co-founder of Neurozone.

In 2017, I launched Creative Diligence for six reasons:

1. To protect entrepreneurs from losing out on opportunities due to opportunistic established businesses.

2. To help entrepreneurs navigate the perils of social media.

3. To help entrepreneurs consider different perspectives during problem-solving.

4. To provide an academic and legal perspective (or input) to the coaching industry.

5. To determine what guidance and support are required and, if necessary, to put entrepreneurs in contact with professionals who can offer support in a specific area.

6. To help entrepreneurs uphold ethical behaviour by considering the interests of all stakeholders – even the competition’s interests.

At this point, I had worked in the corporate world. I was familiar with the challenges of setting up a business and turning ideas into reality. But I lacked experience in the day-to-day struggles entrepreneurs face. So when I started Creative Diligence, I focussed on the law and corporate governance side of running a business.

I soon came to face these struggles. And I was ready to quit. Most of my work was pro bono because I had to gain experience as a coach and mentor. I desperately wanted an income again. With faith and motivation from my family and friends, I moved through this challenging period one step at a time.

Every email I received was celebrated as an opportunity that might open doors. I focussed on my skills and strengths – the law. I grabbed the opportunity to expand my knowledge of data protection and privacy in the online sphere and completed a certification in Information Privacy. On 18 September, I qualified as a Certified Information Privacy Professional/ Europe. You can read more about it here.

This change in direction opened up new opportunities. I’m currently working on a data project for a corporate. This allows me to continue growing Creative Diligence, so I can share my knowledge and experience with entrepreneurs who need support.
It’s a good place to be.

Recently, I shared my tips on maintaining emotional and physical well-being while running a small business in Fetola’s Catalyst magazine. Read more about it here. I can pledge that, during the difficult times this year, I’ve applied all the guidance I provide to my clients.

My final thoughts to you:

– Focus on your strengths, skills, knowledge and unique service.

– “Sharing is caring!” Instead of copying someone else’s ideas, thoughts or designs, share your connections with them by sharing their post or by quoting them. Or let the individual decide whether they are willing to share their hard work (art) with you. (Content marketers: if a young entrepreneur inspires you, acknowledge him/her instead of searching for a big name to quote with a similar thought/idea.)

– To avoid the pull of social media trends and passive aggressiveness, write your posts ahead of time. When I was still active on social media, I wrote my posts two months in advance.

– When individuals don’t share their personal life stories and thoughts on social media, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are inauthentic, cold or don’t have empathy. There’s another perspective. They might just be focussing on being objective.

– If you act ethically, you’ll attract ethical like-minded collaborators. This will give you peace of mind.

– If you have a solid foundation (for example your contracts and policies are in place), corporates will be more open to working with you.

Image credits
Photographer: Lesca Lea
Hair and make-up artist: Gareth Coleman
Retoucher: Flat White Images Retouching

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