I just returned from Singapore where I appeared at the Global Branding Forum. This has been an annual conference for the past five years and has had such speakers as Al Gore, Rudy Guiliani, Francis Ford Coppola and others. I was flattered to be invited and made a presentation that I titled: “Time for Brands to Get REAL.”

After this, I appeared on a panel with Spike Lee and Al Reis, and I thought our readers might enjoy an anecdote I cited. I think that we are all getting fed up with the phonies we’ve seen in business, politics, and everything in general in the news. Very recently, for example, if you thought of the image of a CEO, you thought about a person with bigger-than-life stature, a million dollar smile (and an equally expensive suit). But those guys, as it turned out, were not very real, not very authentic, and their companies have suffered as a result.

Based on that Hollywood image of corporate leaders, I bet that Spike Lee would never cast a man I know as the CEO of a major global company I’m familiar with. That man is not very tall, he’s ordinary looking and speaks with a Midwestern twang. When he was appointed, I agreed with most people in his company that the board of directors made a huge mistake in appointing him to lead this multi-billion dollar company.

But not long after his appointment, a funny thing happened. He gave a speech from the heart, which I attended, and, this unassuming man had his audience rapt in attention. When it was over, the person in charge of the event, came over to me and said, “You know — he’s really authentic. He came across as someone you could believe in, someone who is REAL.”