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Money Matters: 4 ways to be more authentic and build belonging

By Jake Goeckeritz - Fishbowl | Oct 3, 2021


Belonging is powerful. A sense of belonging can increase job performance by an estimated 56%, according to a 2019 study by BetterUp. In our personal lives, a sense of belonging can be key to our reaching out when we need help and enable us to provide that help for others, too. It’s a human emotional need, and authenticity is key to finding it.

“When looking for a stronger sense of connection, you have to start with self-reflection,” said Stephanie Gilbert at National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Being aware of what’s important to you can help you find ways to connect with other like-minded people.”

Matt Frisbie, CMO of Little Giant Ladder, recently spoke about authenticity at the Fishbowl Inventory Management + Growth Summit. I sat down with him to learn about how his tips for businesses translate into personal life, and here is what I learned: It’s not about you, trust yourself, listen and work your guts out to be your authentic self and foster a sense of belonging.

Remember: It’s not about you

If you’ve seen Marvel’s 2016 film “Doctor Strange,” you’ll remember the scene depicting Stephen Strange’s final conversation with the Ancient One. After a car accident robbed him of the use of his hands, Strange is fixated on his ambition to return to his old life as a successful neurosurgeon. But as they discuss what makes someone truly great, the Ancient One gives him a clear reminder: “It’s not about you.”

“When you can get over yourself, life becomes really fun,” Frisbie said. What does this look like in practice? It’s doing things that bring you real joy so you can be more present for your loved ones. It’s listening to understand, not to respond. It’s avoiding “main character syndrome” and remembering how you fit into the big picture when you interact with your family, friends or community. That helps you to be yourself.

Trust yourself

Authenticity comes from trusting yourself, and trusting yourself comes from developing expertise.

“When I was in art school, I would copy the masters,” Frisbie said. “Copying da Vinci, Rembrandt — the true classical masters — made my appreciation for them skyrocket. I had never thought about these different aspects of creating art and how difficult it is.”

We would definitely consider great artists authentic, even if they started out by copying the masters. So how did they get to that point?

“When art comes from a place of authenticity, it’s because it comes from your beliefs and your opinions and not from a place of insecurity,” Frisbie said. “When you achieve expertise, you can be authentic. You don’t have to prove yourself.”

In our personal lives, it takes time to figure out our unique voice and what we bring to the table.

“Strive to improve yourself,” said Tchiki Davis, Ph.D., an expert on well-being technology. “By being open to new knowledge, you can grow more quickly and find the best routes for you to achieve sustained authenticity.”

So work to make your relationships, talents and skills the best they can be. Authenticity will come. Trust yourself!


“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply,” said Stephen Covey in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

When you listen to understand, you are much more likely to be listened to — something we all want.

“I had a friend who would really listen to me,” Frisbie said. “He once referenced something I had said to him three years before. I asked him how he remembered that, and he told me he thought it was important to me, so he remembered.”

When you really listen and are really listened to, you’re better able to say what you mean and act in accordance with your beliefs. That’s a big piece of authenticity.

Work your guts out

Frisbie told the story of the time his boss, the CEO of Little Giant Ladders, dared him to do something that seemed out of reach.

“Have you ever taken No. 1 in the market?” the CEO said.

“No. I’ve helped a lot of companies grow but never taken No. 1,” Frisbie said.

“I dare you to.”

With that challenge, new possibilities opened up to Frisbie. It was the hardest thing he’d ever done, but he eventually achieved what his boss dared him to do.

So, “work your guts out!” he said. “You will never be happier than when you have been uncomfortable working your guts out and achieved impossible things.”

Whether it’s an assignment from your boss, economic hardship in your community or an intimidating medical diagnosis in your family, going through difficult challenges makes you realize “I can do this!” And when you accomplish what seemed impossible, you’re closer to the best version of yourself.

“There are so many things we can do that we don’t believe we can do yet,” Frisbie said.

Be your authentic self both in your business circles and personal life by remembering it’s not about you, trusting yourself, listening and working your guts out. This will help you foster a sense of belonging with your co-workers, family and friends, making your community a better place.

Jake Goeckeritz is the vice president of marketing at Fishbowl Inventory, which provides a powerful inventory control system to automate inventory management and scale business.


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