Be authentic, we are told. Bring your whole self to work is another exhortation we hear often. What do these mean?

Karthik Srinivasan points out several issues that (Indian) CEOs face, and at times create for themselves, in the pursuit of a personal brand.

One of the big challenges of the ‘always online’ and ‘everything online’ is in figuring out, for ourselves first, what is authentic and what is performative.

One way to not fall into the trap of a social media treadmill and the emotional rollercoaster associated with the (non-)performance of a post, reel or video is to:

Know Thyself
Whilst answering the question “Who am I?” or “What do I want to be known for?” might be a life-long question, its worth attempting to answer it before you invest a lot into “personal branding” or social media.

In important part of knowing yourself, is not just what you want, but how emotionally sensitive you are—are you a dopamine junkie; does one bad comment or rant send you to a dark place? How would you respond?

Why are you on social media?
Also ask yourself WHY are you doing it? As Karthik points out for a corporate CEO likes/engages may not make sense as they would for an ad-revenue driven influencer. And once a quarter or year is worth revisiting if it’s still true.

Corporate vs personal
This is the professional vs social quandary we’ve faced even before social media. How separate do we keep these two spheres—clearly national and local cultures play a part in this. And social media has torn many of these walls down.

This is where the “whole self” problem presents itself. As we’ve seen with the war in the Middle East, being authentic has been a minefield as many a social issue has turned political. Yes there are no definitive right answers but only answers that are right for you, in a set of circumstances.

What are these for you?

Mental & emotional wellbeing
The only thing that matters is your mental & emotional wellbeing. The mental health issues that teen girls face due to social media are well documented. As are issues of YouTubers facing burnout and the mental health challenges of startup founders. Joshua Doležal, Ph.D. and others have written about the pressure writers face to build a personal brand whilst trying to make a living.

Being ‘successful’ whatever that is, whilst not having your health, family or lasting community is a pyrrhic victory at best.