Honesty in your career search, and finding a better path forward. A candid conversation with Erika Napoletano.

It seems like every time you turn around, someone is lying to you about something.

I just read about Gallup Polling being cut off from any future Federal contracts because they were overcharging the government and “indicating a lack of business honesty or integrity.” Well, that’s a problem for an organization that’s been in business since 1922…and every other business or person that is less than forthcoming in their practices.

What is it that makes people think that lying will get them what they want, when telling the truth is actually the only thing that can turn them into a trusted partner for the long term? Do they not understand that they will eventually get caught – and even if they don’t, they have to live their lies FOREVER?

I heard a Russian proverb today that resonated with me:

With lies you may go ahead in the world, but you can never go back.

After hearing an uncommonly honest talk on being brutally honest with yourself (followed by a standing ovation) at TedXBoulder, we sat down with our friendly neighborhood entrepreneur, speaker, no-BS branding strategist, and columnist, Erika Napoletano, to discuss honesty.

In our line of business, we encourage people to be themselves and to interview with honesty…just portray who they are and what they can do. Yet people try to sneak things by us all the time so they can get a job, regardless of the consequences.

Our clients pay us to have a great BS detector and to get to the bottom-line, quickly. Is the candidate a solid cultural fit for their organization, will they be able to contribute to their company in short order, and will they stick around – all questions our clients need answered (and by us). Our job is to promote in-depth discussions to quickly ascertain what is fact, and what is fiction. Thankfully, after more than a decade of listening to every excuse and half-truth in the book, we’ve gotten pretty good at determining who is full of it and who is truly a good soul.

In our conversation, Erika asked a number of excellent not-so-rhetorical questions including these doozies;

“Do you want to wake up every day and manifest mediocrity or do you want to wake up and blow your life out of the water and do things that other people never thought were possible?”


“When was the last time that you heard this: ‘You know that guy down the street that’s shady as hell? I can’t wait to give him more business!?” This never happened, did it? I didn’t think so.”

The issue is, not everyone does take stock of a situation. Most take people at face value and it’s unfortunate that you do have to look deeper, but it’s reality. Whether we’re talking about an interview scenario or the advertisement on during the nightly news. You have to think critically, and without exception.

So, ask yourself this: are you or the people you surround yourself with interested in transactional relationships and short-term one-offs or are you interested in establishing relationship-based partnerships where there is a trust and understanding between two parties? It seems like an easy question to answer, but when you’re in the middle of the situation, it’s not always cut and dry…or is it?

Erika talks about the fact that there is a decision to be made in this battle between truth and untruth. It’s between selfish people who are only interested in accomplishing what they need on their terms and those who are altruistic and generally willing to help and have an awareness of the greater good. She continues:

“Often it’s about being PC and thinking you’re going to hurt someone else’s feelings or turn them off somehow. That type of thinking needs to get kicked to the curb. Would you rather be suffocated by propriety, or oxygenated with honesty? It’s not mean or cruel to speak your truths – just explain why you feel the way you do. While they may not be happy with your rejection or explanation, they will respect you for telling the truth. And if they don’t, well, that probably says more about them than it does you.”

Why is this notion of truthfulness so difficult for most? Seriously. If you are hoping to find a new career, tell us you’re not a people person and that you prefer to work in the basement by yourself with your headphones on. Tell me you’re not interested in working for a startup. Tell me you have social anxiety and you don’t do well at networking events. GREAT! No big deal! THANK YOU for being honest, we can totally work with that, and as a result of your honesty, we can put you in a situation that you ARE comfortable with, and one you might even thrive in! Erika said it best:

”Being honest is being humble. It’s just helping someone understand your reality”.

Another important point that Erika makes is that oftentimes honesty isn’t welcome or fostered in a business environment. This can result in a stifling mess of political correctness. If nobody in your organization can speak openly, to voice dissent or defend ideas, your business will fail. It’s that simple. Erika offers,

“If you foster a collaborative environment where open communication is encouraged with inclusive feedback loops (yes, the secretary should have a say, too) and a culture of permission, you empower your employees to be successful.”

Amen, sister.

One of the things we are most proud of at Technical Integrity is that we only work with clients who have gone out of their way to create an amazing culture for their employees. One in which people love coming to work and sharing ideas on how to make things better, every day. We love hearing from our candidates how much they have grown personally and professionally in the roles we’ve placed them in. That only happens when people are encouraged to be open, forthright and honest.

That old saying “The truth will set you free” could not be more accurate. You are literally empowering yourself to get what you need, with a few extra words to explain WHY you feel the way you do to create understanding, empathy and commonality…oh, and you don’t have to cover your ass and try to remember what lie you created six months ago. You just hurt yourself with your half-truths and misleading statements.

So- back to that rhetorical question;

Do you want to wake up and manifest mediocrity or do you want to wake up and blow your life out of the water?

The secret to going down this path truly is making a commitment to telling the truth, giving yourself permission to be honest, and for the love of all that is holy, STOP APOLOGIZING for being honest. Be comfortable in your own shoes. Stop assuming that half-truths are just a part of everyday life because you hear them on TV daily, your Congressman blows smoke to get what he wants or your favorite sports figure lies to win races. STOP THE MADNESS and be cool with explaining your reality, whether or not it jives with someone else’s.

Surround yourself with great people who love life and who are straight shooters.

Embrace others who give you permission to be yourself, to be honest and forthright and even (GASP) candid with them about your thoughts.

Erika concluded our chat with this:

“The art of being successful in life – or anything – starts with you and your words and your actions. Your dreams can only come true if you are honest with yourself and with others.”

I’ll raise a glass to that.