Chris Brogan is one of the smartest guys online, and his blog blows most others away.

He’s hit on one of the hot buzzwords in a recent post: a fave in the world of sustainability: “authentic” Chris basically says he’s sick of the term, and offers instead that one should be “helpful”: “…be honest with yourself and filter that into whatever it takes to be helpful to others. Present your most helpful side to the people who need it, and do so with as much genuine interest in other people‚Äôs success as you can possibly muster.”

I get Chris’ sentiment here – when marketing folk toss around the new buzz words like “authentic” – it can actually leave you cold.

But a) I’m not convinced that “helpful” is the alternative to strive for. And b) I think his adverse reaction to “authentic” comes from someone being too lazy or superficial to deliver the real meaning (the “authentic” meaning…).

When I advise a client to be authentic, what I’m advising (and will be sure to clarify ) is to be real and to only make promises that you can keep.

A company/person/brand must promise their stakeholders (customers, clients, partners, advisors) only what they will deliver as well as what they stand for, and to deliver on those promises.

Be clear about your intentions, your abilities and your limitations, and that’s authenticity you can take to the bank.

~ Christopher Smith