Just Be ‘Real’. It Really Works!

Reality TV is nothing new. It has been around since the 1940’s but exploded globally only 12 years ago with the successes of Survivor and Big Brother. I have to admit, I got hooked — at first. “Wow, this is so cool. People are just being themselves.”


Remember Jon Dalton, aka ‘Jonny Fairplay’? The guy who has been labeled as constructing the greatest lie in Survivor history when he pre-arranged to have a friend tell him that his grandmother had died.

The lie worked, people felt sympathetic, Dalton won a challenge, and then minutes later he reveals to the TV audience it was a scam! Dalton said, “You only get one shot at winning a million dollars. And if you don’t take every advantage you possibly can, then you’re an idiot!”

Why We Feel Jipped When Role Models Scam Us

I am certainly not labeling Jonny Fairplay as a ‘role model’.

Maybe it was a publicity stunt. Maybe he is like this in real life. Who knows.

But don’t we all have role models who we look up to for inspiration, motivation, and guidance? We admire their hard work, their perseverance, their ‘no holds barred’ attitude. We rely on their authenticity because after all, we aspire to be like them and maybe even have dreams of actually being them.

All strong brands, whether they are products, places, or people are based in authenticity. It is why we are attracted to them. When they violate this authenticity we feel scammed. The recent crash and burn of my own role model, Lance Armstrong, reminded me of this. Perhaps the best comment I have read about Lance’s collapse (and I have read A LOT) is from Sarah Banet-Weiser in her article Why Livestrong Will Die,

“Armstrong’s betrayal was not just about an athlete’s bad choices; it was a betrayal of authenticity, and authenticity is the cornerstone of any brand.”

Betrayal is the optimum word here. Whether it’s a reality ‘actor’ like Dalton or a sports ‘hero’ like Armstrong it is one in the same. We feel betrayed when people abuse our trust.

My Recent Reality Check

Last month I wrote a post called Being Almost Broke and In Debt Can Be Pretty Cool! My purpose was not to look for sympathy. I am not the only solopreneur out there living on a shoestring with debt coming out my ears. I’m not the first questioning what I am doing and wondering if it is all worth it. I simply wanted to share my stream of thought on what I was really feeling.

Believe it or not people closest to me questioned why I would publicize this. I was warned: What if a potential client sees your post? Why would they hire someone who is not bragging about their success?

Who knows, maybe I lost potential business. But an amazing thing happened.

People not so close to me commented on the post, shared it, and even contacted me privately. Some were fellow solopreneurs who reassured me that they are there, have been there, and even go back there frequently! Others were people making fat pay checks, but miserable as hell, telling me how I was their role model!

What the F! Really? Me? A role model?

Then it dawned on me. I was putting it all out there and perhaps it struck a chord with others.

Put Your Real Message Out There

Here are 4 folks who continually remind me why being real really works. I admire them for saying what needs to be said. I want to share some of their words of wisdom with you.

Follow these guys. Connect with them. Listen and learn. You will not feel jipped, and just maybe they will become role models for you just as they have for me.

1. Craig McBreen:

In Craig’s post Looking for the Next Big Idea? (Here’s the Secret) he reminds us that from a young age we are basically programmed to follow a linear path marked by rote learning and imitation. (I would like to add regurgitation!).  This is our biggest creativity killer!

Being a solopreneur is probably the most non-linear path I can think of and there are times when the comfy cozy womb of conformity whispers in my ear. When that voice beckons me, I can now thank Craig for helping me to simply think of dead fish! Because as he puts it,

“A rigid, inflexible plan can result in a stinky, dead fish that smells of desperation, because it sucked your life blood right out of you.”

2. AJ Leon

AJ has written a manifesto that I go back to time and time again to read. I kid you not. This book freaking rules. If you have not downloaded The Life and Times of a Remarkable Misfit do it immediately after reading this post.

In one of AJ’s essays he reminds us that we are constantly battling two thoughts. On the one hand we justify not doing anything extraordinary or crazy. Yet on the other hand we totally admire those who lead ‘unorthodox’ lives.


Think of your role models. Aren’t you in awe of them because of the cool shit they do? The fact that they avoid resting on their laurels is what makes them so damn appealing. So once again, when that seductive voice calls me back to the ‘comfy’ 9 to 5 grind, I thank AJ for saying,

“There is nothing more dangerous in life than comfort.”

3. Srinivas Rao

Srini is ‘principal’ of the coolest ‘school’ on the web, The Skool of Life. I have learned more real life lessons from his blog then from most teachers in my years of formal education. Seriously.

In his recent post Life Doesn’t Come with an Instruction Manual he reminds us that sometimes the best laid out plans lead to dead ends. When life punches me in the gut, I remember these words from Srini,

“What makes the story so damn interesting is that you get back up and keep fighting.”

4. Dan Waldschmidt

Dan hits the nail on the head with virtually every post he writes. This guy has mad skills when it comes writing stuff that smacks you in the face and makes you want more.

In his post Why Life Needs to be Tough Before You Can be Amazing he emphasizes that when things are ‘easy’ it means we are not doing anything new. We are just going through the motions.

When things just plain suck on my own solopreneur path and I want to pull my hair out, I just recall Dan’s formula to be amazing:

“You need to hurt. You need to cry. You need to wish that the pain would stop.”

These 4 guys really do keep me real and I am grateful for having them in my life. Yet at the end of the day I always need to remember that no matter how much they inspire me, in the end I need to be real because it really does work.

About the author

Peter Sterlacci Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer.” In a country where fitting-in is the norm, Peter’s mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. An avid cyclist, he combines cycling imagery with personal branding strategy to empower his clients to shift gears and sprint to career success. Follow Peter on Google+