« Everybody is wrong | Main | Ranking Speakers Bureau websites: The good, bad, and ugly »

June 10, 2009


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Authenticity vs. Authority:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Christine Mortensen

That's a fabulous metaphor! Thank you for sharing.

Christine Mortensen

Ooops! How embarrassing, I typed my own URL wrong!?

btw, I'm reading "The New Rules..." now and loving it!


David -

I'm going to have to disagree with you here. I think that the old prof probably has just as much authentic love for the subject, he just wasn't as dynamic.
Both professors have authority in their subjects (they have to, otherwise they wouldn't be professors), it is just that the older professor has more authority than the younger one. It could also be said that the younger one had more authority amongst the students, while the older professor had more authority amongst other university professors and the academic world.

So what do I think the difference between authenticity and authority is?

Let's say that both professors work for the Film Department. Professor Young was a movie reviewer in high school and during his undergraduate days, he wrote a series of academic articles about Film Theory while getting a Masters Degree, and his PhD paper was a widely-read treatise on Film Theory.
Professor Old was never much for academics, and struggled through his undergraduate degree. However, he also wrote and directed a series of films, one of which gained critical acclaim and was picked up by a major studio. Although he eventually got his position as a Professor at the University, none of his articles or papers were widely quoted or popular. Yet, when teaching a Film Production course it is Professor Old who is Authentic, Professor Young who isn't. The level of authority each has depends on who you ask.

What do you think?

Richard Atkinson

Great post David. Now more than ever people are finding their voice and contributing their authentic vision. The world is dramatically changing for the better because people are empowering themselves and empowering each other simultaneously.And it keeps rippling out and keeps getting stronger.


I don’t think that getting into the pasts of the professors is what David is going for and what the question really is asking. Take away the professor analogy, Replace it with another profession. Imagine an army hierarchy. The General has all the authority in the entire organization. He belts out orders and expects people to do it, but he is worthless if he doesn’t have the respect from his men. The best way to get respect is by being authentic to your troops. If the general isn’t, then he needs his subordinates to have authenticity to convey orders and encourage the troops to do as he says. You can make that comparison with coaches & team captains, and executive board members & committees. I believe the whole point of the topic was looking at a "big important" company giving people information vs. a "little guy" talking to people about topics.

PS I’m reading the New Rules and I am actively trying to implement some ideas into my workplace!

Maiya Rose Benda, Meaningful Streams of Income Coach

Love the topic. Thank you David - My belief - It's really a game of Passion for what you do that leads to an Authentic expression. Your excitement and drive to learn about and share the topic is so energizing, that others can't help but be drawn in. Yes, Parker has a point, too. Perhaps the ol' professor wasn't as dynamic as others, yet I've been fully engaged by people who aren't "dynamic." I was drawn in because they "knew" their subject inside and out - made connections that others hadn't yet expressed, and dared to put their theories and thought-provoking questions out into the world.

They were purpose-driven by the challenge of knowing their topic on a deeper level and therefore, authentically shared themselves in a quest to deepen and spread that knowledge.

Just another example to make the case :-)

Maiya Rose

David Meerman Scott

@Parker - you have given me something to think about. There is certainly an interesting dynamic between authenticity and authority.

I certainly hope that everyone who reads my ideas heads over to Mark's blog to check out what the other marketers said.


Jim Peake

Great topic David. If the classes are packed then I would guess to say that the new prof's are "making their authority." A similar question was asked the other day, what matters more in this economy? Skills or Degrees? Skills won in our little handful of samplings.

It appears that authenticity is what people are craving for since there seems to be less and less of it these days, hence the big demand for "reality type" shows.

The comments to this entry are closed.


Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

follow me

David Meerman Scott books

I want to speak at your next event!


David Meerman Scott e-books

David's iPhone and iPad apps

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 12/2004