Betty White’s secret to success: Authenticity

Betty White’s star just kept rising as she grew older.

The iconic television star died on New Year’s Eve, just shy of her 100th birthday. Though she appeared in many successful television shows and films – including “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Golden Girls” – White became a cultural hero beginning in the 2000’s.

She was featured in Super Bowl ads, wrote a book, produced a show which pulled practical jokes on young people and even hosted “Saturday Night Live” at the age of 88.

Betty White

White was smart and worked hard to build a career that lasted seven decades. But that doesn’t explain why she attained what became a kind of mythical status in American culture.

That was something else, which I think is best described as authenticity, and from which we can draw lessons from her.

She attracted people because they believed what she said. More specifically, they thought she believed what she was saying. That’s hard to find in today’s culture but it’s an important characteristic when you think about leadership and success in business.

We’re drawn to authentic people. Those are the bosses we want to work for.

We crave authentic experiences. Those are the activities that we will pay more for.

We want authentic lives. The ones that people will remember.

Betty White was one of those people. Or was she?

She was a performer, an actor. She brought authenticity to the role.

Playing a role is the essence of staging memorable customer experiences. Think of Disneyland.

Your business isn’t a fairytale world of heroes and villains. But in a real sense, we are all acting.

Just like Betty White. The question is do your customers believe what you say? Are you authentic in the role?