Preface: Earlier this week we published an essay titled Authentic People. This essay is meant to serve as a corollary to that one.
We are flattered when people tell us that we are similar in person to the people we portray online, that there is continuity between the web guys known as The Minimalists and the flesh and blood versions of Joshua and Ryan. We are also honored that most people accept us for who we are, warts and all.
We feel the same way about many of our online friends after we get to know them in person. Six people particularly stand out to us as especially authentic:
1. Colin Wright. When you first meet Colin you think, “Is this guy for real?” He seems to be too nice to be a real person. But that’s just who he is: he’s incredibly friendly and helpful and he lives a life of almost complete transparency, as if his skin is made of cellophane and you can see inside him. He is real. Colin embodies authenticity.
2. Leo Babauta. Leo personifies calmness and collectedness. The online, Zen Habits, mnmlist Leo is the same Leo in person. He admits that he doesn’t have all the answers and that his solutions might not work for your problems. He is open and honest, and he is an impeccable listener—he listens to you as if you are the only person on earth. He is the definition of cool, not today’s heavily-mediated brand of focus-group-tested cool, but the real kind of cool, the kind of cool you can’t purchase off the rack at Banana Republic.
3. Dave Bruno. Also known as the 100 Thing Challenge guy, Dave can be best described as empathetic and friendly and engaging from a slight distance. Joshua and Dave hosted a Minimalist Meetup at SXSW in Austin, TX, in March, and it was obvious that even with all his Internet and published author stardom Dave most enjoys having the ability to contribute to other people in a meaningful way. He would much rather connect with people than sell them his book.
4 & 5. Jeff & Marla Sarris. OK, so we’re listing two people together here, because Jeff and Marla are an outstanding couple, both online and off. In fact, we first met this attractive husband and wife team at an event in Chicago last year before we started interacting with them online. The first thing you notice when you meet them is their height difference-at 6’4″, Jeff is usually the tallest guy in the room, and, at 4’11″, Marla, um, isn’t as tall as Jeff, although she has the tallest personality in the room. Together they are an inviting duo, clearly enjoying their life together, while not living solely for themselves. Their collective demeanor is warm, calm, charming, and attentive, reminiscent of a pleasant family gathering.
6. Niall Doherty. We met Niall at the World Domination Summit in early June. We happened to stay in the same hostel together (which was a nightmare of an experience, though that nightmare had nothing to do with Niall). Niall is an interesting Irishman who smiles a lot, which tends to draw you in right away, and once he draws you in he wins you over with his unapologetic honesty (and often shocking transparency). His stories are open and engaging and entertaining, leaving you yearning for more and more and more because you know they are real, and as humans we yearn for that type of authenticity.
We could list dozens of other authentic people we know in real life—people like Nina Yau, Corbett Barr, Sean Ogle, Chase Night, Adam Baker, Crystal Silver, Tammy and Logan Strobel, Dave Ursillo, Joel Runyon, Nate Damm, and many, many others—and tell you about each and every one of them, but we’ll let you figure them out for yourself, because it’s great to meet incredible, like-minded, authentic people, and it’s even better when you’re able to validate their authenticity.
We often wish to emulate these types of authentic people, to make some part of them part of us, to instill in ourselves little pieces of authenticity.
The good news is that that authenticity is already there within us, that we are all authentic already, yet we often mask our authenticity with things that are not real, especially when we value material things instead of people and relationships and experiences, when we surround ourselves with things that aren’t real, when we cover our surfaces with an embellished facade. When we mask the truth with lies, we hide our authenticity, we bury it and it becomes hard to see.
But all we must do is be ourselves. You see, authenticity isn’t something we do at all it, just being who we are is what being authentic really means. The people mentioned in this essay are authentic because they are themselves, just like you can be yourself, It’s alright to be yourself, to show the real you, warts and all.