Tough to Achieve,
but Enormously Liberating and Powerful

Authenticity is a self-directed process of continuous analysis, validation, and verification of personal beliefs, practices, guiding principles, aspirations, and operational purposes that drive, direct, focus, and fulfill your life.

The higher you go in operations, and as a trusted strategic advisor, the more your authenticity and that of other senior decision-makers comes into play. The concepts come to the fore when:

  • The truth matters.
  • Tough questions need to be answered.
  • Ideas from beyond the pale need suggesting or defeating.
  • Corrective action and behavior change, especially among leaders, needs to be surfaced.
  • Meaningful discussion of personal beliefs and reasoning are on the table.
  • Serious decisions or important input is required.
  • Trust is at risk.
  • A reservoir of sensible, simple, positive, constructive, and useful options is needed to move forward or begin resolution of serious issues.
  • When you need the boss to really listen.
  • When you are a boss who needs others to really listen.
  • When you are the boss and really need to listen and pay attention to others.

Here is my current authenticity analysis template. Perhaps you might find it useful for yourself.

  1. Please let me know what you think.
  2. Please send this to anyone you might think it could help.
  3. Questions to, subject: Authenticity Template

This is Jim Lukaszewski:
A Personal Profile

Powerful Speaker, Important Author, Inspiring Teacher, Trusted Advisor

Purpose: Through helping resolve the significant troubles of others, find and do what will be the most important things I will ever do in my career and life.

Vision/Aspiration: To be an authentic trusted Communicator, Coach, Counselor and Strategic Thinker; to be the first call when leaders and managers face their toughest, touchiest, most sensitive and devastating situations and questions.

Mission: To be the table, truly strategic; promptly finding those exceptionally achievable, ethical, honorable, powerful, and sensible ingredients for solutions to the most challenging leadership, management and organizational problems.

Disciplines: Gettable, doable approaches; Intuition-Pattern Sensitivity; lifelong learning; Management Perspective/sensitivity; Teach, Coach, Counsel to educate, motivate, and expand  Management and leadership influence and success; Thoughtful, Incremental Achievable Advice; Tomorrow Focused; Trustability; Verbal Clarity.

Values: Compassion; Constructive approaches; Curiosity; Honesty; Inconsistency (strategy); Positivity; Pragmatism; Promptness; Truthfulness, Intentional Inconsistency (the key to novel ideas)

Principles: Candor; Prompt Intentional Communication; Destiny Management; Empathy/Compassion/Apology; Engagement; Openness; Responsiveness; Transparency; Truthfulness.


Bill George, Senior Fellow, Harvard Business School, Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Medtronic

  • Author of True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership with Peter Simms, Jossey-Bass, 2007.
  • He created the Authenticity industry
David Grossman, ABC, APR Fellow PRSA, Founder & CEO of The Grossman Group

Jim Lukaszewski has more than 2,000 recommendations on LinkedIn, is listed in more than 35 editions of who’s who, and is the author of 13 books since 1992 (14th coming out in 2025), hundreds of articles, many book chapters, and dozens and dozens of webinars.

© Copyright 2024, James E. Lukaszewski. America’s Crisis Guru®

Please get permission to reproduce or quote. Contact the copyright holder, Subject line: Permissions

“What Makes a Fellow, a Fellow?”

An Extraordinary Footprint.

The Most Important Personal Honor in American Public Relations

Spring is the time of year when many of our PRSA senior colleagues are nominated or nominate themselves for election to the PRSA College of Fellows. As I begin my 31st  year as a Fellow ‘93, it’s interesting to reflect on the experiences of all those I have coached or mentored over the years. Just about everyone comes to the process with few clues about what a being a Fellow actually is.

Becoming a Fellow is all about the footprint the candidate has left on the profession, culture, colleagues, and society. There are Fellows who have worked their entire careers in a single market and left a powerful footprint. There are Fellows who have worked in a single state and leave a significant footprint. There are Fellows who work regionally or nationally and, in the process, leave a meaningful footprint.

A footprint is about the quality of practice and the level of influence and relevance to the entire practice rather than how many projects completed, or awards won. This is the hardest part and biggest test of becoming a Fellow. It is a profound mindset shift from counting projects, clicks and likes to really understanding the power of the candidate’s intentional, personal impact, ideas, behavior and ethics that help others to become better and improve as practitioners, citizens, public officials, leaders, more honorable advisors, and people of professional substance; people who have then become more successful and influential among the people they impact, influence and change throughout their professional lives.

It’s also more than the activities within the Public Relations profession. It is about the candidates’ intentions, impact, influence, access, and acceptance in their vicinity, marketplace or practice specialties; it’s about how the candidate uses their influence, experience, insights and presence to make important change happen – perhaps bringing reality and sensibility, as well as reducing contention and bringing peace to important contentious circumstances.

Earning their access, intentions, influence, impact, acceptance, and inclusion in what matters.

Sometimes it’s easy to misread this impact, or mistake proficiency or expertise for leadership, personal impact on others. Those who wish to analyze their careers, to assess their footprint, ultimately go through an interesting and introspective analysis of their lives and work. These are the steps I recommend:

  1. Examine one’s life for the lessons that were shared with others and what others learned from their own perspective. And what the candidate learned from being helpful.
  2. Reach back and make contact with those whose lives the candidate truly affected, seek short real examples of the value to them from knowing the candidate.
  3. Ask those whohave known, worked, and benefited from the candidate’s efforts, presence, and insights the answers to five basic questions:
  1. What is/are/were the most important things, ideas or concepts that these individuals learned from the candidate?
  2. What is/are/were the most interesting things, ideas or concepts learned or remembered?
  3. What is/are/were those things these individuals feel they might never have learned had the candidate been absent from their lives . . . What do they know now that they didn’t know before that mattered because they met the candidate, whatever the circumstance?
  4. What meaningful questions did the candidate help others to confront, consider or explore that might not have happened had the candidate not been present?
  5. How has knowing the candidate changed people’s lives, in the beneficiary’s own words?
4. There are crucial personal questions the candidate must ask themselves.

  1. How have you stepped outside the realm of PR for some purpose larger than yourself? What, when and why?
  2. Can you explain your motivation or your intentions for achieving election to The PRSA College of Fellows?
  3. Can you provide a sense of the purpose of your life, larger than yourself?
  4. What evidence can you share that, rather than on yourself, you put the spotlight or gave the spotlight to others?  Or, how you helped someone else find the spotlight for their work and accomplishments?
  5. How do your accomplishments fit together so we can know your plan or how your career was driven, by personal spontaneous actions, self-motivated activities, or other forces?
  6. Have you systematically shared your insights and learnings based on what you were accomplishing and learning in your practice?
  7. How do you share the principles that drive your practice in  hopes that those you help will retain and apply them in their own practices? In other words, are you already acting like a Fellow?
  8. What are some of the lessons, morals, and self-evident truths about what and why you do what you do or believe what you believe?
5. Can and do you explicitly share the principles and higher purposes, if any, and intentions that guide and influence your thinking and judgment and in turn constructively and memorably influence others.

  1. In simple single words and short phrases, how would you describe who you are?
  2. Should you be elected to The College of Fellows how do you plan to remain relevant to those who will seek your assistance and counsel?
6.  What were some of the surprises the candidate experienced as their access, influence, impact, and professional success expanded?

  1. True success in life is intentional. It may start by accident and often does.
  2. What were the Candidate’s intentions as success and visibility increased?
  3. What can the candidate pass on to PRSA’s leaders of tomorrow?
7. How would the Candidate characterize their career purpose(s) and goals?

These questions matter because once a practitioner becomes a Fellow; all these impacts on others continue and intensify. It is more than an honor to be elected a Fellow. This election turns out to be a public recommitment by the candidate to helping our profession and our professional colleagues find ways to improve their skills, yes, but also to begin to look at their practices and their practice circumstances from larger, more powerful social and cultural perspectives.

Becoming a Fellow is about reinterpreting our professional metrics from a new, higher, and entirely different and more impactful perspective: Helping others become more substantive, influential and insightful practitioners. It’s about understanding what matters, what is helpful, what is sensible and often what is powerfully simple and true. It is about professional integrity, honesty, and having a truly meaningful personal and professional life.

It’s a life dedicated to the recognition of the needs and accomplishments of others and working on issues and questions larger than the candidate that creates the extraordinary footprint, election to the College of Fellows represents.

It’s that Extraordinary Footprint that makes a Fellow, a Fellow.

How extraordinary is the footprint the candidate presents in their application and in their life?

© Copyright 2024, James E. Lukaszewski. America’s Crisis Guru®

Get permission to reproduce or quote. Contact the copyright holder, Subject line: Permissions

The Five Counterintuitive Effects of Explosive Visibility

Whenever a business interest, product, or person is suddenly forced into the limelight, a predictable set of counter-intuitive effects occurs. These effects can be prepared for, often pre-empted or mitigated. It doesn’t matter whether the limelight or public visibility is caused by positive or negative events. Managing sensational visibility depends on anticipation, planning, and counteraction:

Effect 1:

Inverse Credibility – Opinions of the lowest employee, neighbor, public official, or competitor will outrank the facts supplied by scientists, CEOs, acknowledged experts, and sometimes even Nobel Prize winners.

Victim values define who is credible in adverse situations.

Effect 2:

Inverse Intellectual Content – Complex, difficult-to-understand issues and nuances are reduced to abject simplicity.

The rule of the thirteen-year-old applies. If it can’t be explained so that your mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or an average thirteen-year-old can easily understand it, it will be misunderstood, and misinterpreted, all of which will be your fault.

Effect 3:

Inverse Relationships – Those most negatively affected by your actions will have more power than common sense or the greatest positive majority. People you don’t respect will have great power over you and your decisions.

To paraphrase what Margaret Mead said early in this century, “Never underestimate the power of a handful of dedicated individuals (or victims) to change everyone else’s life.” Believe it.

Effect 4:

Inverse Compatibility – Getting to and staying at a table – no matter what – is crucial to controlling outcomes. Overcome your discontent, your distrust, and your disrespect for your opposition. Compatibility isn’t necessarily essential to winning. What’s essential is engagement with trust. Be in the discussion, in the fight, in the dispute, in the debate – positively – until the situation is resolved.

Effect 5:

Time vs. Healing – In high-profile disputes, discussions, and problems, time lags, delays, and unresponsiveness are always counterproductive. Silence is always perceived as doing nothing (Often an unrecoverable mistake and leadership killer). Delay is perceived as arrogance or incompetence; postponement is perceived as collusive; and a non-response is admission of guilt. Do it now; say it now; decide it now; ask it now. Act decisively; decide; control; survive; sometimes even win.

The lesson: Explosive visibility remains sensational as long as you allow it to.

© Copyright 2023, James E. Lukaszewski. America’s Crisis Guru®

Get permission to reproduce or quote. Contact the copyright holder,

Stop with the Wandering Generalities, Please. Get Specific.

Wandering generalities are a plague on humanity. When in doubt, people hide behind bland, useless, and often misleading statements. Below I show three examples of these typical types of statements and how to make them meaningfully specific.

Wandering GeneralitiesMeaningfully Specific Translation
1. “We’re a great company.”1. “We are a powerful company, leading three important business sectors, digitalization, transmission efficiency and end user acceptance.”
2. “Everybody loves our company.”2. “We use three techniques every month to test our customer acceptance: direct contact with key users; short, direct questionnaires; and, seeking testimonials.”
3. “We’ve successfully dealt with this problem in the past.”3. “We made three crucial improvements in this process starting four years ago: first, we significantly reduced defects; second, we began more careful education of our customers; and third, we introduced a monitoring program to catch defects earlier.”

Translate Generalities into Specificity

Rather than say:

  • Everyone…name them
  • Everybody…name them
  • They…say specifically who
  • That…say specifically what
  • Theirs…name or itemize them
  • Those…name or specifically identify what it is
  • It’s…Again identify what It’s is
  • Her…name her
  • His…name him

You get the idea.

Generalities are barriers to understanding and actually help people miss the importance of what you are trying to communicate.

More GeneralitiesMeaningfully Specific Translation
1. “Everything will be fine, we’ve been through this before.”1. “We live by three success initiatives: start early; stay customer engaged; and follow up for results. These three initiatives will work to improve our accuracy, activity, and performance.”
2. “I’ve always enjoyed their work.”2. “The strategy teams work is essential to our success. We need their accuracy, their persistence, and their intuitiveness.”
3. “They’ve always been a championship outfit.”3. “Mary and Bill always show their leadership, their skill, and their consistent responsiveness.”
4. “This idea is very important.”4. “Our success depends on three crucial ingredients: speed, accuracy, and choosing a limited number of targets.”

Also see Packing and Bundling.

© Copyright 2023, James E. Lukaszewski. America’s Crisis Guru®Get permission to reproduce or quote. Contact the copyright holder,

Wisdom Sparks #1 – Critical Insights in a Few Words

Leaders in Crises are times for:
·       Discovering new leaders/leadership.
·       Uncovering incompetent and ineffective leaders.
·       Taking needless risks.
·       Exposing leadership misbehavior, and intentionally bad decisions.
·       Helping troubled leaders depart promptly.
Are these scenarios in your readiness plans?