“You must be Rebecca. You look exactly like your photos.” (said to me by an attendee at an event that I was speaking at)

“I read your blog last week; and I swear I could hear your voice in my head as I read it! I even imagined I heard you laughing at the funny parts!” (said to me by a long-time colleague)

“Oh my God, Rebecca! I was on your website last week and you are exactly how I imagined you would be.” (said to me by a woman I masterminded with for 15 minutes at a workshop)

These are but a few of the comments I have reflected on in the last few months as I continue to ponder the concepts of authenticity in marketing; being vulnerable in my sharing, and truly showing up as Who I Really Am for my clients, my friends, my family; and even those 200 some-odd Twitter followers (a small but dedicated bunch.)

On this same theme, I wrote a post about this very thing a few weeks back on the blog and raised the question of how much is “too much” for us to be sharing? Is it “okay” or even “wise” to tell everything about ourselves to the world at large which; if you’re in business, contains many, many people who potentially may use your services?

And today I am diving a bit deeper into this because I think it is ever-so-relevant in our shifting world – and the marketplace that is affected by these shifts.

It is clear to me that there is a pendulum “swing” that is happening in businesses around the world. While once we lived, ate, shopped, and sought entertainment in small communities defined by geography; we’ve then swung to the other extreme in which we live, eat, shop, and seek entertainment from anywhere in the world.

But as pendulums must, it is swinging back.

I believe that the end is near for Big Box stores that; in many case, meant the death of small local shops.

I believe that people are tired of faceless interactions.

I believe that humans crave connection and community and are seeking balance between this and the desire to have the freedom to roam the globe and make choices that they could not find closer to home.

So what does this mean for the future of business?

I believe that we will have communities in which we will eat, live, shop, and seek entertainment; and in some cases, those options will be within a few miles of our actual homes, and in others, they will be at the far corners of the world.

But it is our definition of community that has changed and expanded and allowed for this shift to occur.

Community now means more than who lives next door. It is about the people you feel connected to – no matter where they are geographically. And because it is becoming once again about the PEOPLE themselves; (and hence the doom of Big Box stores and faceless corporations that we are witnessing already…and that, I believe, we will see even more of in the next years to come) it has become of great importance to those of us in business to truly allow people to know who we really are.

In a small village in Italy in 1962, there were two bakers. Some of the local people really enjoyed visiting Baker One because he was gregarious and joyful, laughing and teasing his customers, and singing as he worked. Others hated going into that shop. They were always on edge, wondering if Baker One would make fun of their hat; or pick them to randomly dance with him as he twirled around the shop. These people were thrilled when Baker Two opened up down the road. It meant that they had to walk a bit further for their bread and sweets, but it was worth it to enter the sanctuary that was Baker Two’s shop: classical music played in the background as Baker Two slowly and reverently created his masterpieces of dough and icing; and they loved soaking up the quiet and the beauty that was the essence of Baker Two.

Each of these Bakers was successful. There really was no competition between them. How could there be? They were different as night and day and people simply gravitated to the one they loved the best. Sure there were moments at family gatherings in which a person may taste the bread of Baker One and think, “Oh, this may be a touch lighter than Baker Two’s bread;” and they may ponder for a brief and fleeting moment that they would like to eat this bread more often…but then they would remember what it would “cost” them to eat Baker One’s bread and would quickly remind themselves that no, Baker Two was THEIR Baker, and always would be.

To BE someone’s Baker of choice (or accountant or coach or chiropractor or book-seller) we must Be Who We Really Are and infuse that essence into everything we do – every croissant, every conversation, every interaction. Because we must be ready. Ready for the shift that is rising up; for the swing of that pendulum that will lead the masses to make choices based not on price but on personal experience and connection. Ready for millions of people to stop and say, “Hey, wait! I may have to walk a bit further to buy your bread, but darn it, it is worth it to me because YOU are My Baker.”

(Now I am just going to pause here for a moment; because for some reason it feels important to do so. Can you just feel the power of that last phrase? The idea that someone would walk just a bit further to buy YOUR bread because you are THEIR Baker? Do you feel the connection there between you and that customer? Do you feel the bond? And do you feel what comes next? Yep, that. That’s pride. Pride from the customer because YOU are Their Baker…and pride from you because You are THEIR Baker. Your customers will be proud to interact with you. Proud to share their experiences. Proud to say, “Yep, she’s my baker!” And you’ll feel that and respond to it and work harder to hold that feeling because it feels so darn good. You’ll finesse your skills, give them a cup of tea with their scones just because it feels lovely to do so, and infuse everything you do with your own pride, which, of course, will make everything you do even better. See how this all works? It’s like magic…)

The world is changing. People are changing.

Our desire to connect in a deeper way is becoming ever-apparent; and choices really are being made on more than price and convenience. It’s already begun. We see it now. But this will continue to grow and grow as the pendulum swings…and this, this is what I’ve been preparing my clients for, what I have been preparing for, for the last several years and we are ready. Are you? Because someone out there wants you to be Their Baker, and I want you to be ready.