Authenticity is Key

Today, I spent the day with the Digital Creative Crew from lululemon for a photo shoot for the online category banners.  Those are the banners across the top of the webpage for each merchandise category – like Shorts, Tops, etc.  My day started at 9am this morning and ended just after 4pm and I left with a resounding message in my head – Authenticity is Key.

I’m so appreciative to have been asked to do this photo shoot because they don’t just ask anyone.  I’m not saying I’m special but I am saying that I’m lucky.  “A million girls would kill for this job,” as they would say in “The Devil Wears Prada“.  From the get go, the models for the day were all runners and they wanted everyone to look like they normally do when they run – no crazy make up or primping or poking.  Given the photo shoot was all outside, albeit we had very decent weather, it was cold but at every turn or pause in the day, we were asked if we were uncomfortable, given hot packs for our hands, gloves to wear, extra layers, and offers to carry our stuff.  And everyone was just .. nice.  And interested in you.  And looking out for you.   The photographer gave us all great feedback and he showed us some of the shots and what they were trying to achieve.  It felt as though we weren’t just props for the day – they wanted us to buy into what they were trying to accomplish.  I had a presence and that was amazing.

Being a Run Ambassador for the lululemon Robson store, you’re constantly surrounded by “lulu-speak” – key words and phrases that are repeated, such as “goals, yoga, be present, community, dream”.  All these are are positive and uplifting but not pie-in-the-sky someday type words; they seemed to have mastered the English language to perfect the translation of those words from pie-in-the-sky to YOUR reality: “Dream the impossible dream but make it your reality”.  Oh, and all the while, sweat and be happy.  🙂

To be honest, from the periphery, it is possible to become numb to those words and not hear them for what they are and how they impact people.  Today, however, I was brought back to the core of those words and that Authenticity IS key.  Every person I worked with today was on the same level and was genuine.

I recently read an article about Christine Day winning CEO of the Year and it was talked about the niche that lululemon has created.  It wasn’t simply the supply-demand equation.  They purposely create limited supply to necessitate demand – and it works.  The other side of the equation not spoken about are the people who are the foundation of this very successful company.  You walk in and it’s rows of tables and computers side-by-side – no cubicles, no offices.  The rare office they do have are glass.   It takes a different kind of person to be able to work in an environment where it truly is WYSIWYG.  Every single person there is busy and focused, but yet dedicated to the success of the company while staying true to their company manifesto.  Of course, I didn’t deduce this by interviewing every employee but that’s what you feel when you’re there and when you’re surrounded by genuine, happy people.

When I go through my day to day life, there are times when I am bombarded with expectations and, in the midst of it all, I lose my way.  The stresses of my work, personal life, training, etc can weigh me down and I find myself going through the motions of what I “should” be doing.  This frustrates me to no end as I’ve always believed that you need to be “real” – be “authentic”.  The person with whom I need to be most authentic is me.  So, today, was a good reminder.  Thanks lululemon.  🙂  Can’t wait to see the photos!

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