In a world of augmented and virtual reality … are you real?

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I am continually impressed by evolving technology. A wave of adrenaline hits me when I meet a great person. One of these ingenious people who have these ideas, and are realising them by creating new markets and products. It is these people, and their minds, that impress me even more than the technology they create. These founders are real people, making real contributions. This happens every single day, relentlessly. Inventions and innovative technologies like penicillin, the internet, machines that fly and thousands of advances have augmented the world.

Do you believe these inventors got lucky? My theory is that they were all just extremely real people.

Are you real?

The Oxford Dictionary defines real as; true or actual; genuine or authentic.

Being real is an admirable trait in a person. It is a vital ingredient if you want to be a successful founder.

Real people can be defined by these qualities they possess in abundance:

a) They are authentic and true.

Rather than worrying about what other people think of them, they would prefer to set their own goals and judge themselves. They refuse to celebrate false victories. They are truthful about their weaknesses and honest with others. These traits usually make them great leaders.

b) They give a shit. Relentlessly.

This stark truth hits you in the face when you meet someone. One way or another. A real person cares deeply about their people and the problem they are enduring. By their people I mean their community, customers, suppliers and of course their family and friends.

Before any prodigious feat was accomplished stood a real person. They achieved great things in their chosen fields because they included in their daily working life the time and the effort and genuinely cared about the people around them. This instinctive caring meant that all the people they interacted with felt valued and significant, and therefore became so. They had no magic, no unfair advantages or major investors. These Founders simply lined up a problem and became obsessed with fixing it. Entrepreneurs live this every day.

Being real is the panacea for success and happiness!

Everyone’s definition of success is different. Happiness is not a destination, nor is it an achievement. Happiness is a state of mind. It is relative and may never be a perpetual state of mind. Who hasn’t said “I just want my (kids, partner, myself — whoever) to be happy”? Are we wrong, or are we simply misreading the instructions? Perhaps what we really strive for is to be real. As a human, we will fail, often. It is hardwired into our DNA (as humans) to progress and make real connections.

Is being virtual providing us with an augmented life? I say hell no, and so do you probably.

So, let’s ‘virtually’ go back a few years, before a time of Facebook ‘likes’. What can we learn from nature? Plenty. Mother nature offers up some pretty good models to emulate, or at least learn from. In a Darwinian world, we thrive by evolving and connecting. We evolve to survive, but we connect with people to make it worth living.

Connection is the opposite of loneliness, being lonely can make you appreciate its absence and strive for making better connections. The bottom line is when you evolve this makes you happy. Being honest (real) with yourself is the starting point to any progress. Life is the question, but you are the answer. The good news is you have a choice. The bad news is that your time is finite, use your imagination to evolve and connect.

Does anyone care about ‘your why’?

One of the best presentations I have ever watched is Simon Sinek’s TED Talk. Mr Sinek articulated how Apple reversed the standard order of selling products and services. He rightly says that people buy why you do something, not what you do and could care less about how a business makes something. Mr. Sinek’s presentation has had more than 37 million views!

For those of you who haven’t watched it, his principle argument is that by reversing the order in which you are engaging with customers and running your business from;

1. What (you make);
2. How (you make it) and;
3. Why (you make) a product;


1. Why;
2. How and then;
3. What;

you will dramatically change the way people engage with you and your product. In essence, he is illuminating the fact that people want to connect with a business before they would buy their product. To connect with a person or business, we must first form trust and understand what a business stands for. I wholeheartedly agree Mr Sinek. But it’s not as simple as that.

Now listen up everyone it’s time for some honesty. No one, except your business coach and your Mum cares about your why. Mr. Sinek follows up his presentation with a great book, titled “Start with Why”. But what starts with why? And more importantly, does it?

I’m not saying Simon Sinek is wrong, I am just wondering what we can discover if we look one layer deeper into the theory he spells out. Is it not your why, but rather whether you give a shit about other people? That’s secret number one. This is not to be confused with your why.

The selling strategy spelled out above makes sense. The ‘what how and why’ of any businesses strategy is important.

However, your why, is not the usual catalyst of starting a new business. Where a business actually “starts” is in defining who you will solve a problem for. And then the success (or otherwise) flows from how dedicated you are to solving that problem. Do you really give a shit? Does a person need to buy shares in a company which has a purpose or a ‘why’ that they care about? Or, should they go out and start their own company in the industry that they are passionate about? I say, definitely not. Our behaviour, and the decisions we reach, comes from multiple motives and perspectives. We balance all of this up. No doubt some unfounded bias is thrown into the mix. People who support worthwhile charities aren’t precluded from investing in alcohol or gambling companies. Some people might refuse to do so, but nothing can completely be explained by a single moment or motive. We are continually shaped, and we can have multiple why’s.

Does this work for everyone?

If you are in the what’s-in-it-for-me category (and there’s nothing wrong with that) you might well subscribe to the notion of it-starts-with-why. I suspect I am simplifying it, but if you really want to know yourself, then add value to the world and you will eventually see what’s in it for you. In answer to my question, Yes, it does work for everyone it would seem.

What does it mean to ‘get real’?

The term ‘get real’ (and so many other derivatives) has been used to inspire an image of something good. In my world it is to have the traits of a good human. To be Human is so many things, but surely many of those critical traits would be:

1. To reason
2. Be comfortable making mistakes (after all you are human)
3. Don’t be afraid to show emotion (guilty)
4. Show empathy
5. Possess humility
6. Evolve as much as possible
7. Work in a team/community
8. To love
9. Have fun, smile and make it real

No doubt there are additional traits, but to be a good leader, you must be a REAL person.

In 2018, the ‘likes’ economy is thriving. You can buy ‘likes’ (I don’t recommend this), you can put on cosmetics, and it is said ‘image is everything’ or ‘fake it until you make it’. Is this real?

Are we too keen to be on the bandwagon, to check where it’s going? Do we care as long as we are in the majority?

Not convinced? Have you ever clicked ‘like’ on Facebook before you even read or open an attachment? Why would you do that?

People don’t actually like ‘knock off’ bags, watches or non-real anything. So why do we focus so much on the illusion? Part of the reason is, we don’t mind something fake if it entertains us. David Copperfield has entertained people for decades. But deep down, in our quietest moments, and your customers when they are making decisions, we want what is real.

Forget stories unless they are true. Abandon the fake, and be comfortable with yourself, or actively try and improve. It’s the journey that is the most fulfilling, the questions you ask yourself and of others. If none of what you thought was real, how would you feel when you found this out?

Have I convinced you, do you want to be real?

Forget virtual reality. In real life, it’s all about two things:

a) Being real and

b) Giving a shit about people.

How you choose to live your life will provide you any answer you want.

Don’t be boring, we have always loved stories but please be real. Don’t overthink it, own it and your mistakes and above all else, give a shit about people.

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