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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

5 Authentic People

Sometimes when your two authors meet readers in public, they comment about how “similar we are in person compared to the people we portray online,” as though they didn’t expect congruency between the web guys known as “The Minimalists” and the flesh-and-blood versions of Joshua & Ryan.

We feel the same way about many of our online friends after we get to know them in person:

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: 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. Colin embodies authenticity.

2. Leo Babauta. Leo personifies calmness and collectedness. The online Leo is the same as face-to-face Leo. He admits that he doesn’t have all the answers, and that his solutions might not work for your problems, and he is open and honest, and when you talk to him, he listens 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 & 4. Jeff & Marla Sarris. Jeff & Marla are an outstanding couple, both online and off. 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, umm … 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.

5. Niall Doherty. We met Niall at the World Domination Summit this year (2011) while staying in the same hostel. Niall, an interesting Irishman who smiles a lot, draws you in right away with his kindness, and, once he has you near, he wins you over with his unapologetic honesty (and often shocking transparency). His stories are open, engaging, and entertaining, leaving you yearning for more because you know they are real, and as humans we yearn for that type of authenticity.

We, as humans, often wish to emulate authentic people: we want to make some part of them part of us—to instill in ourselves little pieces of authenticity. But the good news is that that authenticity is already there inside us: 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, relationships, and experiences; when we surround ourselves with constructs that aren’t real; when we cover our surfaces with an embellished facade. When we mask the truth with lies, we hide our authenticity.

To change, all we must do is be ourselves. Authenticity isn’t something we do: just being who we are is what being authentic actually means. So it’s best to be yourself: to show the real you, warts and all. Anything less is, by definition, inauthentic.

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