My $30 Lesson On Authenticity

Authenticity

When I started out in my career as a financial planner, I was clueless about brand names or goods. To me, a pen was a pen. It did not matter to me if it was embossed with a Mont Blanc motif or the initial of a Parker. As long as it served its basic function, it was great enough.

Which brings me to a story. I bought a great looking brown belt when I was in Bangkok. This was when I was in my second year as a rookie planner. The buckle of the belt bore the initial H. I loved it, cause it was the letter of my name. It also struck a familiar chord with me as I was crazy on the movie Hitch (starring Will Smith). In that movie, I saw that he wore such a belt. Thus I was so elated when I got my hands on one. It cost me less than $30.

Wearing that belt, when I got back home and work, proved to be a revelation. Colleagues started looking at me, from waist down. Careless whispers were flying around, when I walked past. The office secretary seemed to treat me nicer. I started pondering if it was just the aura I was exuding, or was it the belt.

It became funnier when I encountered a stranger in the office elevator. He looked at me, and with a wry smile, commented, “Great belt! Must have costed a bomb”. I laughed heartily and said “Yeah balls. For $30!” He guffawed loudly. “You could have fooled me there mate,”he quipped.

I was intrigued. Why was everyone so “into” my belt. I did a quick Google the next day, and found to my amazement, that the belt I was wearing, was a replica of a brand name called Hermes. And it turned out that an original Hermes belt would have pushed my budget back to say, $300 – $400. “Wow…” I thought to myself.

An overwhelming sense of embarrassment came to me. Seemed that I was carrying a replica branded belt on my waist all the time. A blatant case of worldly ignorance.

Nevertheless, thinking back on that anecdote these days, makes me wonder, if I would have carried of a different personality, should I had known that I was wearing a replica.

The point is this. External enhancements may give people a different impression perception about you. You may be perceived differently, should you be wearing something that carries a great namesake.

Which gives rise to that old maxim, “Fake it till you make it”. To be honest, I do not really subscribe to this adage. Cause in my scenario for instance, I was definitely not faking the idea that I was wearing something expensive on me. The ignorance on my part, just kinda made it sounded more like , “Be it till people believe it”. In my mind, it was just another affordable belt on my waist. Which was true by the way.

So in summary, do understand that while expensive things may make you look “upgraded”, it still boils down to the level of confidence you have in carrying it off. You do not necessarily have to be crazy about authentic branded goods. Just work on being an authentic you.

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